//UPDATE: This post has been changed to add more information about the methodology of the poll.
A new automated poll released today by gay advocates shows 57 percent of Marylanders would support same-sex marriage at the ballot box and 37 percent would oppose it -- a stunning 20 point gap in favor of the new law. It is by far the most optimistic survey on the issue.
The numbers put Maryland's support for same-sex marriage ahead of national figures. A more traditional poll released Wednesday by Washington Post-ABC News shows 53 percent of Americans favoring same-sex marriage, which is a new high. In that survey, 39 percent, a new low, say gay marriage should be illegal, the Washington Post reported.
Opponents of same-sex marriage have a deadline next week to submit an initial batch of signatures to qualify the law for the November ballot, and have said they will easily exceed the first hurdle. Maryland's General Assembly legalized same-sex marriage earlier this year, though the law does not take effect until January 2013 -- after the referendum.
The new Maryland poll was based on live callers replying to automated questions -- a method considered less reliable than the traditional, and more expensive, live phone calls.
It is based on calls to 852 likely votes was conducted by Public Policy Polling on behalf of Marylanders for Marriage Equality. It was in the field between May 14 and May 21 -- just after President Barack Obama announced his support for gay marriage. The numbers show a "major shift" in opinion among African-American voters, according to PPP pollster Tom Jensen.
Fifty-five percent of African Americans would vote for the law and 36 percent oppose it, according to the new poll. "These numbers have essentially flipped since PPP conducted an identical poll in March," according to a news release issued by Marylanders for Marriage Equality.)
In March, a PPP poll showed 52 percent of respondents would "probably" or "definitely" vote for the same-sex marriage bill if it is on the ballot in November. The survey showed that 44 percent would "probably" or "definitely" vote the measure down. That poll was also based on automated calls.
Other interesting tidbits from the poll:
- Democrats favor same sex marriage 66 percent to 28 percent
- Women are more likely to support same-sex marriage (56 percent of women support/48 percent of men support)
- Hispanics tend not support same sex marriage (40 percent support/53 percent do not support). This could be important in Maryland, as the Dream Act will also be on the ballot.