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Junk social science

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles ) | Dec 11, 2003

The last Boston Globe story on same-sex marriage (scroll down toward the end) cites a few polls of Massachusetts residents.

Polls, including one taken for the Globe and WBZ-TV after the court decision, show a majority backed the court's 4 to 3 decision. A University of Massachusetts poll taken this week reaffirmed those findings, with 59 percent of the 405 registered voters surveyed saying they agreed with the court's ruling, while 37 percent disagreed with it.

By a 51 percent to 41 percent margin, the respondents said they think gay marriages should be legalized. But they seemed split over a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages, with 48 percent opposed, 46 percent in favor. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

If the latter poll can be off by only 5%, then the highest possible number of people approve same-sex "marriage" would be 57%. But in the first poll cited, 59% favored the court's ruling-- which essentially favored same-sex marriage.

And can you make any sense of the fact that, according to this second poll, 3% of the people think same-sex marriage should be legal, but aren't ready to oppose a constitutional amendment banning it?

If these polls are even halfway accurate, the people of Massachusetts are split down the middle on this issue. That's very likely. But it's also likely that the people are badly confused about what's at stake. For that, we have the pollsters-- and, above all, the Boston Globe to thank.

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