Nate Silver, the geeky guru of poll prognostication who accurately called the vast majority of the 2008 election results, has conducted an intensive examination of the Maine marriage battle. According to Silver, the marriage ban is likely to fail.
Maine is the third least-religious state in the country, according to Gallup, with only 46 percent of that state’s residents saying religion is an important part of their daily lives. That bodes well for those who are hoping the initiative fails; the comparable fraction in California, which passed Prop 8 last year, is 57 percent. We’re also another year down the line on a type of initiative that pretty reliably loses support with each passing election. On the other hand, Question 1 would not seek to overturn civil unions, which gives it a better chance of passing. Throw Maine’s numbers into the model, and we come up with an estimated level of support for the ban of 43.5 percent, with 56.5 percent opposed. In other words, the model’s prediction is that the ban will fail. The standard error of the forecast (not the margin of error, which is larger) is 5.2 points. This implies that the marriage ban only has about an 11 percent chance of passing.
But in Silver’s words, “don’t count your gay chickens yet” as he goes on to cite ways in which his prediction could prove wrong. Encouraging, nonetheless.