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The equal marriage survey

September 7, 2017 - 19:35 -- Admin

A few thoughts on the equal marriage survey, now that it’s going ahead.

First up, there’s virtually no time left for campaigning. Supposedly, the papers will start arriving on Tuesday. Unless the ABS is deliberately taking its time, most voters will presumably have them by the end of next week. Perhaps some people will want to wait and hear all the arguments, but I’d guess the vast majority will either return the survey papers quickly or bin them and forget about the whole thing. So, it seems likely that not many people will change their minds.

Second, despite all the fears that have been expressed, it seems pretty certain that the majority of survey respondents will support equal marriage. The big risk was that the pro-equality vote would be split by a boycott, but that’s obviously not going to happen. On the contrary, lots of Yes voters have signed up. That in turn suggests that there’s not much chance of the massive difference in response rates that would be needed to get an outcome radically different from the actual balance of public opinion.

Third, if the campaign does shift opinions, it’s unlikely to help the No vote. So far, no one on that side ahs been willing to address the substance of the issue, implicitly conceding that they have no argument against equal marriage. Instead it’s been a bunch of slippery slope arguments, snowflake whining about being called out as bigots, and general culture warfare. That might play well with the Andrew Bolt/Tony Abbott fan club, but its unlikely to sway anyone undecided.

What remains is the risk of “shy Tories”, people who say they’ll support equal marriage when surveyed in a standard opinion poll but will go the opposite way when surveyed by the ABS. This is always a possibility, but I can’t see it.

Assuming a “Yes” majority, the main question of interest will be how many rightwingers oppose the outcome of the process they’ve worked so hard to bring about.