Fact gathering for this report focused on a specific portion of history of the Prop 8 campaign bounded in two important ways.
First, the case study examines in greatest detail the most active time period of both the Yes and No campaigns. It focuses on the time period between May 15, 2008, when the California Supreme Court ruled that gay and lesbian couples had the right to marry, and November 4, 2008, when voters approved Prop 8 and amended the California State Constitution to take away that right.
During this time, media coverage of the issue was heavy, sustained, and at its peak; both the Yes on 8 and No on 8 campaigns raised the vast majority of their money; both campaigns did the greatest part of their message research and development; and both campaigns created and went public with their principal voter communications.
The case study examines most closely the activities assigned highest priority by the Yes and No campaigns. Both campaigns, though they differed in many other ways, prioritized the same two tactics that are conventionally prioritized in competitive statewide campaigns in California:
· Buying media, especially TV time to air 30-second ads, to communicate a message to voters.
· Raising the large amounts of money necessary to pay for airing those TV ads.
Paid TV was by far the biggest investment each campaign made to influence voters. Both Yes on 8 and No on 8 sponsored a wide range of campaign activities, but both campaigns spent the vast majority of their millions on TV ads. Polling shows that some ads aired by Yes on 8 and No on 8 affected voters; others did not. The case study therefore looks primarily at paid media, campaign message, and money because they are the largest part of the story. Both campaigns must have believed that their chances of winning or losing were most affected by these high-priority activities or they would not have devoted such a large percentage of resource to them.
Taking into account the emphasis of both campaigns on money and TV takes nothing away from other tactics and activities. All are worthy of further study. Both Yes on 8 and No on 8 had complex large-scale field operations statewide; outreach to people of faith and in communities of color; radio advertising; direct mail; and campaign signage. Some or all of these may have had impact on voter decision making. But it made sense to examine most closely the activities on which the campaigns themselves focused most of their resources.
In this particular campaign, especially when you follow the money, it’s clear that both sides focused on TV. See Appendix G, a summary of all campaign expenditures and the emphasis on TV.
Written Documents and Interviews.
The report relies on data from more than 10,000 pages of documents, primarily polling frequencies, crosstabs, tables, and memos and reports recently released by the No on 8 campaign; television buy summaries; campaign fundraising and expenditure reports; other documents that describe ideas and decisions made by the No on 8 campaign; information in the public domain; analysis by other researchers such as Lewis and Gossett; and (to a lesser extent, to the extent they were ascertainable) by the Yes on 8 campaign.
The report also relies on data not in the written documents, but made available in more than forty hours of one-on-one interviews that I conducted with twenty leaders, consultants, and decision makers involved in the No on 8 campaign. Those interviewed include those who made and influenced decisions from May until September, and those who took over decision making from October through Election Day (some of whom began participating in decision making earlier). Those interviewed were as follows:
Members of the executive committee of the No on 8 campaign Equality for All, which led decision making from May through September: Delores Jacobs, Lorri L. Jean, Kate Kendell, Geoff Kors, Michael Fleming, Marty Rouse, Rashad Robinson, and Sue Dunlap were interviewed. For the full list of executive committee members, see Appendix M.
Advisers to the executive committee and involved from time to time from May through November: Thalia Zepatos and Sean Lund.
The initial group of consultants retained by the No on 8 campaign, who also took a central role making key decisions, developing the overall campaign strategy, prioritizing campaign tactics, and/or providing data central to decision making from May until September: Steve Smith of Dewey Square, general consultant; Maggie Linden of Ogilvy, media consultant; Eric Jaye, direct mail consultant; Celinda Lake and, later, Bob Meadow, pollsters working for Lake Research; Phyllis Watts, psychologist who assisted the research team; and, starting in September, David Binder, pollster.
The No on 8 campaign staff who participated in a mix of decision making and implementation for some or all of the period from May through September: Dale Kelly Bankhead and Sky Johnson.
Key decision makers in the campaign and the new consultants they brought in from September 29 through Election Day: Patrick Guerriero, Adam Freed, and Mark Armour; David Binder, pollster, and, at times, Eric Jaye, direct mail consultant from the earlier administration.
The interviews were wide ranging and included a mix of facts and opinion. The report relied on interview information as fact when:
· The interviewee had backup to support what they were saying, eg, email verification, or could clarify the campaign timeline by tying the timing of key events on their written calendar; or
· Interviewees who disagreed on many matters of opinion agreed on a piece of information, or an interviewee gave credit to someone else.
It is understood, however, that readers may want to check the accuracy of any data reported or relied upon to support any of the findings or recommendations. That process is greatly eased with the No on 8 campaign releasing its polling documents; they are available online at http://www.eqca.org/site/pp.asp?c=kuLRJ9MRKrH&b=6096765. In addition, to the greatest extent possible throughout the report, each fact derived from written documents is footnoted to its source. This provides readers an opportunity to check the facts and decide for themselves whether they are accurate. The source documents also allow readers to examine a wider range of issues and ideas than could conceivably be addressed in one single case study.
Facts derived solely from interviews are not footnoted to source to preserve confidentiality. The LGBT Mentoring Project is grateful that so many people with such a diverse array of perspectives were willing to provide information that otherwise would never be available to the broader community.
To the fullest extent possible, each conclusion is accompanied by the facts supporting it. When the facts conflict, as they sometimes do, the author does his best to disclose all the known facts, including those that support his conclusion and those that do not. This presentation gives readers the opportunity to apply their own judgment and determine for themselves if the lessons are adequately supported by the facts, or not. The transparency is intended to allow readers to reach either the same conclusions as the case study, or different conclusions.
The findings and recommendations in the report reflect those of the author and the LGBT Mentoring Project. They do not purport to reflect the opinion or conclusion of anyone else, even those who have generously given their time and best thinking to the author as he has written the case study. The author takes full responsibility for all errors in the report, and gratefully appreciates correction and access to additional documents that can shed light on more aspects of the Prop 8 campaign so that he can improve future editions.
This report would not have been possible without remarkable assistance from a wide variety of people. Full acknowledgements are made in the Acknowledgements section near the end of this report.