NOM's Desperate and Dishonest Poll (Updated)

This has got to be NOM’s most blatant dishonesty yet.

They commissioned a survey to influence the New York State Senate’s vote over marriage equality.  This is their headline announcing the results:

New Poll: 57% of New Yorkers Reject Same-Sex Marriage, Just One in Four Want the Legislature to Decide the Issue

What makes this so egregious? NOM calls it a random sample. Astonishingly, though, they give us demographic info on the respondents. For instance:

  • Only 7% of the people the polled were in the 18-39 age range. But the percentage of adult New Yorkers actually in that range? Almost 43%!
  • On the other hand, 38% of NOM’s respondents were 60 and up, compared to 20% for New York adults generally.

Here’s a chart illustrating their deceptive “random” sampling: 

Take that in. Seriously. Only 37% of adult New Yorkers are 50 and up. But 69% of NOM’s sample fell in that range.

Every poll is suspect. Every poll has flaws. But I’ve never seen anything like this. Any reputable pollster would have thrown these results in the trash and started over. Certainly no honest group would make announcements about what New Yorkers in general believe.

But NOM is no honest group.

I see two good things coming out of this, though. First, NOM continues to make it easier to show them up as a fringe group with no respect for truth or public discourse.

And second, even after skewing the sample — radically, irresponsibly, almost hilariously — to NOM’s best age-group demographic, they managed to get only a 57% response against marriage equality. I don’t know if New Yorkers will see marriage equality this year. But based on these numbers, boy, is it coming.

Disclaimer: my numbers are estimates calculated from Census Bureau projections. If anyone has more up-to-date figures, I’d love to see them.


NOM has responded to criticism by comparing their sample to actual voters based on exit polls.  I don’t know how reliable their source is but let’s take them at their word for now.  This is the apparent nation-wide (not just New York state) voter-turnout breakdown for 2010:

Age Range

% of Voters











These age ranges aren’t quite broken down as they are in NOM’s poll data, but here’s the key point:

Nationally, adults in the 18-44 age range accounted for 33% of all 2010 voters, but in NOM’s poll adults 18-39 accounted for 7% of the respondents.

And if you want to go even deeper, NOM is pushing for a vote by the citizens of New York. If this occured in 2012, that would be a presidential election year, when young voters come out stronger than they do in off years.  Guess what?  I found exact Census data for 2008, so this time I was able to run the number using exactly the same age breakdown as NOM:

Voters age 18-39 accounted for 32.9 % of all voters, compared to 7% of all NOM respondents.

It doesn’t matter whether you use the numbers NOM has presented or those from the Census.  It works out the same way.  And NOM’s reaction?

In other words, NOM’s poll may skew slightly old…

“Slightly old”? This was NOM’s chance to correct their mistake. Instead they’ve doubled down on their dishonesty.

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16 comments to NOM’s Desperate and Dishonest Poll (Updated)

  • 1
    Dan Filson says:

    Responsible polling organisations weight data results to ensure they are statistically reflective of the population being sampled – this didn’t so it isn’t a responsible poll

  • 2
    candide001 says:

    Liars for Jesus?  I’m shocked.
    Love the Christian, but hate the Christianity.

  • 3
    Anna says:

    Here’s QEV’s own website’s “about” info, take a look at the Steven Wagner section at the bottom: LOL
    some highlights:

    Mr. Wagner is President of QEV Analytics, the public opinion research and communications
    strategy firm he founded in 1996.  His practice specializes in international work, the
    telecommunications and internet industries, and U.S. politics.  Prior to QEV, he was the Vice
    President of Luntz Research and Strategic Services.  While there, he conducted much of the
    research behind the GOP “Contract with America” during the 1994 campaign.


    Prior to USIA, Mr. Wagner was the Political Director of the National Republican Institute for
    International Affairs, the Republican Party’s international office.


    Mr. Wagner was the founding Executive Director of the Campaign for Prosperity, Jack
    Kemp’s political action committee.  Mr. Wagner has also served on the Republican leadership
    staff of the U.S. House of Representatives.  He has served in senior positions in numerous
    campaigns for federal office, including two Presidential campaigns


  • 4
    tavdy79 says:

    @ candide01 – if it’s for the cause of “furthering God’s kingdom”, fundies tend to be a little blind to concepts like integrity, logic and compassion.

  • 5
    Regan DuCasse says:

    You got NOM to respond to your analysis. YAY!
    And you nailed them on the response as well. See, these people are something else, aren’t they? You’ll never be able to directly have an open discussion with BB or MG…let alone their supporters on their website.
    They effectively cut off any dissenting opinions where they can be seen openly.

  • 6
    Patrick Hogan says:

    Oddly enough, that was the first thing I noticed about NOM’s poll. And I went straight (so to speak) to the census data, finding exactly what you did. I was thoroughly unsurprised.
    But I was shocked — positively floored — to learn that NOM had responded, even in the half-assed and insubstantial way that they did. Highly uncharacteristic of them to respond to legitimate criticism in any way.

  • 7

    […] Poll I'd Like to See NOM’s skewed sampling on its recent poll was so ludicrous that I skipped over a deeper, more philosophical issue. In […]

  • 8
    SNC says:

    Some information that would be nice to have that I did not see (though I looked quickly):
    1. How was the poll conducted? Phone? Internet?
    2. If it was a phone survey, did they call cell phones as well as landlines? (Without cells, it’s tough to reach under 30s.)
    3. The number of interviews is small, even for a two-day survey. How many numbers did they call (assuming a phone survey), and how many times did they call? (Older people, who often are retired, are easier to catch by phone than younger people.)
    Keep in mind that the poll seems to be intended to represent registered voters–not the general public–and voters skew old. Not THIS old, but still… Census figures aren’t a great comp.

  • 9
    Andrew says:

    Census figures are the right comparison to make seeing as their headline is “New Yorkers”, not “New York voters”.
    Detouring into statistics, actually a pollster would not throw this in the trash can – in this example, age is what’s called a “confounding variable” and it can be “controlled for” by splitting the results up by age, and weighting them in proportion to the census figures.

  • 10
    SNC says:

    I agree that the headline SHOULD match the data, but the data have to weighted to the population they seek to represent. If it’s the general public, it should be Census (or other general-public) data. If it’s voters, then adjustments have to be made. I can’t tell if this was a poll of JUST voters, or whether it was a GP poll and then the analysis was limited to voters. Would be nice to know.
    Weighting would, of course, include age, regardless of what population was to be represented.

  • 11

    […] Will you still need me, will you still heed me, when you're sixty-four?* In recent months we’ve seen several polls show a majority of Americans now support marriage equality (plus one from NOM, less favorable, that merely highlights their own polling desperation). […]

  • 12

    […] In recent months we’ve seen several polls showing a majority of Americans now support marriage equality (plus one from NOM, less favorable, that merely highlights their own polling desperation). […]

  • 13

    […] NOM brings up its own deeply embarrassing poll from last June.  You know, the one where NOM weighted 18-39-year-olds as 7% of the population, […]

  • 14

    […] NOM brings up its own deeply embarrassing poll from last June.  You know, the one where NOM weighted 18-39-year-olds as 7% of the population, […]

  • 15

    […] — NOM is using the article to decry misleading polls, which is hypocrisy on the scale of hilarity. […]

  • 16

    […] — NOM is using the article to decry misleading polls, which is hypocrisy on the scale of hilarity. LINK […]

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