The LGBT community and its allies should assume that the anti-Gay side will run a highly competent campaign and prepare accordingly.

The success of the Yes on 8 campaign included raising $40 million and then using that money in a disciplined way to create and air ads credible to a significant slice of the California electorate. We should prepare for the worst case scenario, from our point of view, which is that they will retain that capability. Otherwise, we will be needlessly surprised and unprepared when they wage a strong campaign against us in the future.

Further, the ability of the opposition to wage a strong campaign is underscored by the persistent close division of opinion on the issue of marriage among California voters. PPIC found that voter support of marriage for gay and lesbian couples grew slowly but steadily until 2003; but from 2003 through 2009, support plateaued. During that period, the electorate was divided: 47% in favor of allowing same-sex marriage and 48% against, well within the margin of error and essentially a dead heat. Neither side commanded majority support. The March 2010 PPIC poll, discussed near the beginning of the Recommendations section, is the first to show a definite lead for the pro-LGBT side: 50% in favor of allowing marriage, 45% opposed, and 5% undecided. This one poll, while encouraging, should not lead us to assume that real movement has occurred. Given the previous stability on the issue over the course of seven polls in seven years, we should consider the possibility that this current poll is merely an outlier until its results are confirmed in subsequent PPIC polls, and even then we should keep in mind the possibility that the poll overstates where we stand in terms of solid support that would withstand the likely opposition campaign.

Finally, Yes on 8’s ability to drive voter turnout among its base warns us that our opposition ran, and will likely run in the future, a smart, strategic campaign. Evidence of this includes a much higher number of yes votes for Prop 8 than Prop 4, even though the number of no votes on both measures was almost identical. In other words, many who did not vote on Prop 4 took the time to vote yes on Prop 8, even though both were on the ballot at the same time, in the same election. For the details on the vote totals for Props 4 and 8, see Finding 8.

This means, at the very least, that a future pro-LGBT campaign in California will need a full-time manager, a strong team whose members have the range of capabilities to manage each aspect of the enterprise well, and a general consultant who devotes 90% to 100% of his or her time to this one campaign. These kinds of campaigns are too difficult to be part-time projects.