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Drake survey shows over 60 percent of Iowans support marriage equality

A 54-question survey developed and implemented by graduate students at Drake University in Des Moines shows within less than a 2 percent margin of error that an overwhelming majority of Iowans support same-sex marriage.

The survey was conducted between June 6 and 17, and gauged the attitudes of 1,760 Iowans (making it the largest study of its kind completed in the state). It is the result of a project created for the capstone course in Drake’s Master of Public Administration program. The course, “Applying Innovative Solutions to Current Problems,” was recently added to the curriculum as an opportunity for students to work together to apply key theories and strategies learned throughout the program. Students determined the survey topic.

“Social issues such as the same-sex marriage debate have been a major discussion at the forefront of our political and social belief systems here in Iowa for several years now,” said Adam Fanning, one of the Drake graduate students. “It has been fascinating to see how the people of Iowa feel about this issue in terms of where we came from, where we are currently and where we are headed.”

Key findings:

  • A majority of Iowans, 61.3 percent, support same-sex marriage.
  • A majority of respondents, 48.5 percent, believe same-sex marriage has had a positive impact on the people of Iowa and that Iowa is viewed more favorably from a national perspective (46.6 percent).
  • A majority of Iowans, 62.5 percent, do not support a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

In addition, the survey revealed a significant misconception. A majority of respondents believe that average Iowans’ view of same-sex marriage is unfavorable (46.8 percent). The survey itself, which notes general support for same-sex marriage and belief of a positive impact due to same-sex marriage in Iowa, shows this is a false impression.

Also, in relation to the November 2010 judicial retention vote that resulted in the ouster of three Iowa Supreme Court justices who participated in the unanimous decision to strike an Iowa law barring same-sex marriage as a violation of the state’s equal-protection clause, nearly all survey respondents — 95.5 percent — believe special interest groups influenced the outcome of that vote, with 51.4 percent believing that voters did not understand the Varnum decision and 30.5 percent did not understand the purpose of a retention vote.

Breaking the responses down by political party, which was adjusted to conform with existing party splits in state demographics, the divide between Republicans an other party affiliations becomes increasingly clear. While 97 percent of Democrats and nearly 70 percent of independents responded that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry in Iowa, only 13.3 percent of Republicans felt the same.

The party break-out also shows that there is little political wiggle room on the issue since an average of 4.7 percent of all voters (3.5 percent of Republicans, 1.7 percent of Democrats and 8.6 percent of independents) responded that they had yet to reach a solid decision on the question.

Image has not been found. URL: http://media.iowaindependent.com/drake_lgbtsurvey_graph_500.jpg

In addition to the survey, the students conducted personal interviews with Iowans considered experts on the subject of how same-sex marriage in Iowa has impacted the state socially, economically and politically. Such interviews were conducted with Bob Vander Plaats of The Family Leader, former Iowa Sen. Jeff Angelo of Iowa Republicans for Freedom, Pastor Tim Rude of Walnut Creek Community Church, Jenny Moore of the One Iowa board and a financial advisor at Principal Financial and several others.

The interviews and additional survey results can be found at a website developed in conjunction with the study, IowaLGBTMarriageStudy.com.

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