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Blog Poll: Barth Ties Varilek; Readers Reject SD Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Last updated on 2014.02.28

The latest Madville Times double-whammy poll posed two burning questions to you, dear readers. Here are the results of the voting, which ran from Saturday morning to Tuesday morning (today!):

#1: Do you support South Dakota's ban on same-sex marriage?

  • No (72%, 192 Votes)
  • Yes (28%, 74 Votes)
    Total Voters: 267

#2 For whom will you vote in the June 5 Democratic U.S. House primary?

  • Jeff Barth (50%, 110 Votes)
  • Matt Varilek (50%, 109 Votes)
    Total Voters: 220

While breaking 200 is pretty good turnout for a blog poll here, that still leaves us with a margin of error notably wider than Minnehaha County. Nonetheless, let's cogitate: what do these results tell us?

1. South Dakota's same-sex-marriage ban is extremely unpopular with readers here. A quick glance at the comment section will show you we don't lack for conservative readers and commentators, and even some of them have expressed uneasiness with government entanglement in holy matrimony.

2. Madville Times readers are more exercised by South Dakota's discrimination against gay citizens than by the Democratic Congressional primary. Matching IP addresses between responses, I find 39% of supporters of our same-sex-marriage ban and 36% of opponents weren't interested in voting for Barth or Varilek. Perhaps it's a good sign that we give a bigger rip about marriage equality than any particular politician's fortune.

3. Barth may be closer to Varilek than conventional wisdom might indicate. Varilek has pounded Barth in the fundraising and endorsement race. It's no mistake that Team Varilek reminds us regularly of those facts: they are saying: "Noem's a machine. If you want to beat her, you need a counter-machine. We are it." But among the motley crowd that hangs out here, with just a little Saturday push from his Facebook page, Barth is able to get out one more vote than Varilek.

Of course, you can flip that and say Team Varilek still virtually tied with Barth without trying. If they sense they are in trouble, they pour on the media, and pow! Barth is back in the 30s.

4. Rejection of our gay-marriage ban and support for Barth do interact. Matching IP addresses shows that 74% of Barth's voters and 56% of Varilek's voters in this poll oppose the anti-gay discrimination we wrote into the South Dakota constitution in 2006. Barth enjoys an advantage among those who oppose our ban on same-sex marriage... but it's one thing for voters to register their displeasure with Varilek's raining on the President's rainbow parade by clicking on a blog poll. It's a whole 'nother thing to ask those same voters to register that displeasure by penciling Barth's oval on June 5.

That real vote happens in less than two weeks. Dem and Indy friends, keep reading, ask hard questions at those candidate debates (Brookings Wednesday evening, Sioux Falls Friday noon!), and get out to vote June 5!


  1. grudznick 2012.05.22

    Mr. H, I'm sure you know french math better than I, but it seems like Poll #1 is bogus/howie because you have a libbie blog and phrased your question all libby and bloggy.

    Poll #2 is probably spot on.

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.05.23

    Grudz, I don't think there's any trickery in the phrasing of Question 1. We have a ban; do you support it or not? I will agree that there is some Dem/lib bias in the respondent pool. 39% of those who say they support the ban didn't vote in the Barth-Varilek poll, while the Barth-Varilek skip rate among those voting no on the ban was 26%. I read in that difference the obvious hint that the conservatives voting for the ban are not voting in the Dem primary.

    But that doesn't make the question or conclusions about impact on the Dem primary bogus. Right now, the salient question is how attitudes on same-sex marriage will affect Barth's and Varilek's performance among the Dem base and the Indies who show up to vote on June 5. If I had big pollster money, I'd ask exactly these two questions; I'd just spend that money to make 1000 random phone calls.

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.05.23

    ...or I might focus the question with specifics about the language Barth and Varilek have used.

  4. larry kurtz 2012.05.24

    Varilek is on Bill Janklow's idea of public radio: calls are being taken.

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