| In the days after Proposition 8's passage, much was made of a CNN Exit Poll showing 70% of African Americans voted for Prop 8. That poll had a number of problems including a small sample size. But the damage had been done, and it soon became conventional wisdom that black voters made the difference, that Obama brought out a huge wave of black anti-gay voters, etc.
But a further review of the evidence, more accurate exit polling, and academic analysis suggests that the 70% figure is way off, as David Mixner reports:
Dr. Fernando Guerra of Loyola's Levy Center for the Study of Los Angeles did a far more extensive poll than CNN and found that the 70% figure was way too high. The figure is closer to 57% (still not acceptable) but a long way from the 70%. Other models that I have been running in an attempt to get the facts and not the emotions show the latter a more likely figure.
The other data that appears to be emerging (BUT yet to be totally verified) is that African-Americans who early voted (which was a huge number) voted YES while those on election day voted NO. Remember we did not do extensive campaigning in many of the African-American precincts until the final week or so which was long after tens of thousands had already voted. Our campaign was slow to use Obama's opposition to Proposition Eight which he gave the day after the initiative qualified five months before the election.
That explanation makes much more sense than anything else I've seen. Early voters tend to be older and it would make sense if some of them in the African American community were strongly associated with Yes on 8 churches. Once the No on 8 campaign finally got its act somewhat together and did outreach to African Americans, we saw the rewards on Election Day.
Ultimately this reminds us how cheap, stupid, and misguided the scapegoating of African Americans over Prop 8 has been. Prop 8's passage revealed that the marriage equality movement has a lot of outreach to do in this state - to older voters, voters living in "red California," to some Latinos and African Americans but also to numerous white voters (if whites had voted strongly No, this discussion would be moot), to Asian and Pacific Islanders, to some religious groups, including LDS Californians.
When the next campaign happens we will be sure to not make these same mistakes. Outreach is going to happen early and often. Just as Barack Obama took his campaign to red America - organizing in places Democrats never before thought they could win, reaching out to voters Dems often ignored - so too must the Prop 8 campaign adopt an inclusive and assertive organizing strategy, mobilizing our base and doing outreach in every community that did not vote strongly enough for marriage equality.