My second recommendation: We know the precise constitutional amendment language the people will be voting on, so don't distort it.
Marriage has won in every state where the people have had an opportunity to vote on it. To date, citizens in 31 states have voted to enshrine one man-one woman marriage in their constitutions, including, most recently, the deep-blue states of California and Maine.
Yet very often, preelection polls in these states have predicted that marriage would lose. In California, an Oct. 30, 2008, poll showed the pro-gay marriage vote leading by 5 points. In Maine in 2009, the story was similar. Yet on Election Day, Californians voted 52 to 48 percent to preserve traditional marriage; in Maine the vote was 53 to 47 percent.
Why do polls consistently fail to predict voters' behavior? There are several reasons. First, many polls use misleading language. They ask people if they want to "ban" same-sex marriage instead of using the amendment language that voters will actually encounter in the polling booth. (In our state, that language is: "Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota.")
"For years, the 'ban same-sex marriage' language in polls has produced about a 6 to 10 percentage point undercount on support for traditional marriage," says Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage. "If you want to get the least favorable result on marriage, this is the language you choose for your poll."
One reason for the undercount is that some people interpret the "ban" language as implying that same-sex marriage or homosexual relationships will somehow be criminalized or made illegal, according to Gallagher. The "ban" language also casts traditional marriage supporters in a negative light. It compels them to say they are against something, rather than allowing them to articulate what they are for.
Most important, people often hesitate to tell a pollster their true beliefs about marriage when traditional marriage supporters are routinely demonized as bigots and haters. (Katherine Kersten, Star Tribune, 5-21-2011)
This suggests to those who oppose this amendment ought to make sure to communicate, that this is a ban on same sex marriage (which is the effect of the amendment), rather than letting the proponents define the amendment and avoid the issue with "let the people vote" or saying this is about "traditional marriage". The other thing that will be important in this campaign is to get positive images of gay couples in advertising about this amendment.
In the rest of the column, Kersten whines about gay "bullies", all the while asking for civil discourse, stating that those supporting this amendment shouldn't be called "bigots". Kersten is great at name calling herself, but seems to have a problem taking it, when it is dished out back at her.