More California voices weigh in: Stay away from 2010 ballot

by on July 22, 2009  •  In Elections, Marriage

Equality California asked six political consultants to advise on whether to push for a repeal of Prop 8 in 2010, and their unanimous response: No way. Following is a summary from the SF Chronicle; the full text of each expert's opinion is posted here.

Sue Burnside, co-chair of the National Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund Campaign Board, is "convinced that we should refrain from rushing in 2010, and instead to build on grassroots passion and strategically prepare for a 'Yes on Marriage Equality' referendum in 2012." Ditto for Mark Armour and Rick Claussen suggests "a multi-year campaign that culminates in an election when the time is right."

"If you do UNSUCCESSFULLY undertake this issue at the ballot in 2010, this will further erode public support on the issue and make it harder for future efforts to succeed," Claussen said.

Even though Democratic consultant Richie Ross — who has won a bazillion races in California going back a few decades — doesn't offer a definitive suggestion, he presents a raw numbers breakdown that suggests that by 2012 there will be more young voters on the rolls (likely to vote for gay marriage) and more older voters (likely to oppose) dying off.

Dave Fleischer, who has worked on many gay-related ballot measures over the years, worries about money. Each side on the Prop 8 battle raised at least $40 million. "The most conventional path to victory employed by a wide variety of campaign strategists — bury your opposition by dramatically outspending them, effectively drowning out their message — isn't an option when the opposition is as well-funded as ours is in California." He worries that the 66 weeks until Nov 2010 "is a very brief time to raise $40-50 million."

Plus, he worries if "our strategy, in a lower turnout year, (can) insure that those who voted withus in 2008 return to the polls in greater numbers than those who voted against us? We can certainly try. But we have to acknowledge that this would be very difficult. Key blocs of our supporters, such as younger voters, often turn out to vote in reduced numbers in off-years."

Former Los Angeles Times pollster Jill Darling said "Did the 2008 campaign move voters? Are the post-elections efforts having any effect? Nothing measurable, as of May."

Consultant Gale Kaufman notes that an initiative for November 2010 needs to be submitted to the Attorney General by the end of September. "We should ask ourselves, are we ready for that? Has the perfect initiative been drafted? Is everyone who should be consulted on the legal language, not to mention whatever nuances we want to add, signed off? Is the campaign structure in place to sustain the process that goes along with the beginning stages of an initiative campaign?

"I pose these questions because I think I know the answer. And I think the answer is No," Kaufman said. 


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