Alex Blaze

Indiana should be polled on the ENDA

Filed By Alex Blaze | February 23, 2010 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: brad ellsworth, Democrats, Don't Ask Don't Tell, Evan Bayh, gay civil rights, indiana, media, plling, Republicans, richard Lugar

Dear media outlets considering polling in Indiana,

Please consider asking about the ENDA, or, more generally, banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

I'm sure some of you are finally interested in Indiana again, interested enough to fund a state-wide poll. The last time you had to visit the Hoosier state everyone was talking about whether the Democratic candidate for presidency would be Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. What a difference two years makes - now we all want to know who the Democratic candidate for Senate will be now that Evan Bayh announced his retirement plans. And then you'll want to know if whoever is nominated has a chance at winning, and, if so, what she should run on based on what Hoosiers think about various issues.

Indiana will be interesting again. That's good.

One thing that's also interesting about Indiana is that both of its current Senators haven't committed one way or the other with respect to ENDA, legislation that would ban discrimination at the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Another fun fact about Indiana? It's still perfectly legal in this state to fire someone for being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. And it still happens.

It's not like you all don't think that polling on LGBT issues won't get readers. On the contrary, I count three media polls of the entire US from just the first month and a half of 2010 on the gay military ban, with several others performed in 2009.

People like talking about us, and people are interested in Indiana. Gays in the military and gays in the workplace are this year's LGBT issues, and everyone is more concerned about their jobs in this economy.

Indiana's Senators are holding off on taking a position on what would be the first piece of federal LGBT civil rights legislation, and the name being floated around the most as a replacement for Bayh on the Democratic ticket, Rep. Brad Ellsworth, has an interesting history with the bill. As Bil Browning describes:

At the same time, Rep Ellsworth confirmed to me and the crowd gathered around that he would vote in favor of ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would outlaw workplace discrimination against LGBT people. Ellsworth cited his record as Vanderburgh County sheriff, where he implemented a non-discrimination policy that included sexual orientation.

While he did eventually end up voting in favor of a version of ENDA that stripped out transgender people, he also voted in favor of a Republican-led attempt to kill the legislation before the final vote by sending it back to committee for further study. Ellsworth hasn't co-sponsored the trans-inclusive version of ENDA currently sitting in committee and is one of only a few House Democrats not to publicly support the measure.

Polling data on this one bill, for which none exists, would allow reporters to form more informed questions to ask Ellsworth, should he be a candidate in what's sure to be a contentious race.

Just this past week, Rep Frank indicated that the House would is on track to pass ENDA. If that happens, the Senate may introduce its version of the ENDA. Wouldn't you like your media organization to be the only one with recent polling data on the ENDA and LGBT nondiscrimination legislation in Indiana as both Hoosier Senators will releasing statements, discussing the issue with constituents, and possibly voting on the bill? As contentious as LGBT issues have been in 2009, wouldn't you like your media organization to be ahead of the curve in 2010?

You may think it's a little weird for someone in one media outlet to pretty much beg other media outlets to poll on a certain question, but this is a question that is rarely asked, yet is still a controversial issue that most states are still debating. We want to discuss polling on this issue, but there just isn't much to talk about, not much that's recent, and even less that's on the state-level.

The Bilerico Project won't be polling Indiana because we don't have the funding to run a state-wide poll. Instead, slipping one question on this issue into a larger poll of Indiana that would, I'd imagine, ask many questions on people's personal characteristics, political ideology, and beliefs on a wide variety of issues wouldn't cost all that much more. For an extra couple seconds per interview, your poll would grab extra attention from a whole population.

I'll be reading your polls of Indiana no matter what you ask, and they'll get attention in the context of the horserace for a few days. But in order to get people to keep on clicking on that article, to keep on referring back to that poll for years after it occurred, a unique question about a controversial and important issue will increase that poll's shelf-life.

Thanks for your time,

Alex Blaze

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I guess I do not understand how much a poll costs. It seems to me an unlimited cellphone plan would about cover the phone fees. A computer with some type of cellphone control software and a data cable that keeps the phone charged, and a few phone books. It would seem to me that if you randomly pulled numbers out of the phone books you would get a random sampling. Granted it would not carry the weight of a big known polling outfit but it would give something close to the same results I would think.

What about this one done by Indiana University Center for Survey Research in 2008:

The survey found respondents overwhelmingly agree (80.4%) that gay and lesbian Hoosiers should have the same civil rights protections as others currently do. Support for equal treatment is bipartisan: 92% of Democrats, 64.2% of Republicans, and 85.5% of Independents. Clear majorities support such protections in urban, suburban, small town, and rural areas, and across all age and educational attainment groups.

Similarly, respondents overwhelmingly agree (79.7%) that transgender Hoosiers should have the same civil rights protections as others. Support for equal treatment is bipartisan: 90.2% of Democrats, 67.6% of Republicans, and 82.6% of Independents. Clear majorities support such protections in urban, suburban, small town, and rural areas, and across all age and educational attainment groups.

IE has done other polling that have found positive results too. They used the model Alex described above, tacking on to another poll. Sadly, when they get the poll numbers, they tend to hang on to them for a long time before releasing them. Notice too that they only released two questions - what about the others?

But with IE opposing ENDA for their own political gain (Anyone else see that IN Guv Mitch Daniels is considering a run for President? Who's a big Republican supporter for Daniels? IE big-wig Kathy Sarris. Think she's going to push him to pass LGBT-friendly legislation when it could be used against him in his race for the Presidency?) it's not like they're going to poll on ENDA again soon.

Did not know about that one, although like bil mentions a media poll should be done, not just an advocacy group one. I am wondering about their methodology, though, since 66% of their participants are female.