The ballot initiative to legalize same-sex marriage in Maine has a 13 percentage point lead over opponents in the latest poll conducted by Critical Insights for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram.
However, the lead dropped from 21 points in September, and a tendency for voters to change their votes to “No” in the privacy of the ballot box has experts predicting a much narrower margin on Election Day.
Advertising by opponents is likely playing some role in the tightening poll numbers. But experts say they have seen this pattern before with votes on same-sex marriage, both in Maine and elsewhere.
Undecided voters and some less committed supporters become “No” voters in the final weeks and days of the campaign. And, a certain number of Maine voters — about 4 percent, experts say — tell pollsters that they support same-sex marriage because it is politically correct, but then vote against it in the privacy of the voting booth.
“There’s a social desirability bias,” Brewer said. “There’s going to be a certain number of people who say one thing to pollsters and vote the other way.” Nevertheless, the marriage proposal has a large buffer of support approaching Election Day. In fact, 52 percent of voters said they are definite about their support, meaning they are least likely to change their minds.
On Friday, Public Policy Polling released its final poll on the Maine marriage equality initiative, and also said the measure is leading for passage by a 52-45 margin, numbers virtually unchanged from 52-44 in its last survey.
Maine’s is the first and so-far only ballot initiative brought by petition to approve the same-sex marriage; similar ballot initiatives in Maryland and Washington state were brought about by petition drives in an effort to reject marriage equality laws enacted by their state legislatures earlier this year.