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What a difference a (Prop. 8) ad makes

October 7, 2008 |  7:04 pm

Never, ever underestimate the power of advertising. If they can sell you on his-and-hers personal lubricants, they can even sell you on changing state law to forbid same-sex couples to marry. The latest CBS 5 poll (conducted by SurveyUSA for a San Francisco TV station) finds that support for Proposition 8, the initiative that would embed a ban on gay marriage into the California constitution, leads by five percentage points. Eleven days ago--before a blast of ads for the proposition--it trailed by five points.

Now, the change was among young voters, who can be hard to gauge on polls. Initiatives can be particularly hard to poll accurately. They tend to do worse on Election Day than over a telephone survey. On the other hand, people tend to be uncomfortable about saying they don't like homosexuality.

But the lesson to take home on this one is that Proposition 8, which the Times editorial board is dead set against, is no sure bet one way or the other. Second lesson: Incredibly, some people--especially young people, apparently--actually believe and are swayed by campaign ads. I've been reading about the Proposition 8 ads--the claims (false) that California schools would have to teach gay marriage to children, that it paves the way (false) for people to be sued over their personal beliefs and that churches would lose their tax status (false) if they refused to change their policies to conform with same sex marriage.

I have to read about the ads because they tend to be so irritatingly misleading (not to mention scream-out-loud repetitive) that watching or listening to them is out of the question. Campaign season is no time to be without a "mute" button.

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