PPP poll on marriage amendment tells a familiar story

Posted March 29, 2012 1:47 p.m. EDT
Updated April 2, 2012 11:58 a.m. EDT

Public Policy Polling has a poll out today that says 58 percent of North Carolina surveyed will vote in favor of the constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage. Digging a bit further down into the data, PPP found:

Although our poll finds support for the amendment, it also finds that 51% of voters in the state support some form of legal recognition for gay couples- 26% for marriage and 25% for civil unions- with only 45% completely opposed to any. It may seem inconsistent that a majority supports either gay marriage or civil unions but also supports the amendment that would ban both of them. But what we find is that voters don't actually know what it does:

-- Only 31% of voters correctly identify that Amendment 1 bans both gay marriage and civil unions.

-- 28% think that it only bans gay marriage.

-- 7% think that it actually legalizes gay marriage.

-- 34% admit that they don't know exactly what the amendment does.

That's consistent with a WRAL-Survey USA poll release last week, in which 58 percent of respondents said they would back the amendment.

We asked our follow up question a bit differently, giving those responding a fourth choice of allowing for domestic partner benefits if not civil unions. Backers of the amendment say that it would allow domestic partner benefits to continue at private companies, although there are legal experts who disagree. But like the PPP poll, our survey found that a majority of voters would like to allow for some form of recognition for same sex couples, if not full marriage status. 

An  Elon University Poll phrased the question another way but found results that seem to confirm the WRAL and PPP results. A majority of respondents told Elon they'd like to see some form of recognition for gay couples.

PPP's analysis suggests that at least some (emphasis on some) voters who say they'll back the amendment don't really understand what they'll be asked to vote on. Given the consistency across polls, that seems like a fair conclusion.