Andrew Gelman, over at FiveThirtyEight, presents a graph from data put together by Jeff Lax and Justin Phillips regarding opinions about various policies affecting gays and lesbians:


In another post, Nate Silver asks how public opinion about same-sex marriage might change if polls worded the question somewhat differently. Instead of asking “should the government allow same-sex couples to marry?”, we could just as well ask “should the government prevent same-sex couples from marrying?” He suggests that pro-gay-marriage groups might also frame the issue in this way–of keeping the government from taking away rights that people presumably already have rather than as the government giving new rights. It’s an interesting thought, and illustrates the role that question wording can play in affecting how survey respondents think about an issue.

UPDATE: Well, I was taken to task for not providing a better explanation of the graph. However, commenter Christopher explains it pretty well:

For each state, the status of seven public policies is listed as either pro- or anti-gay with seven colored circles which are either filled or empty with respect to the status. In addition, the position of the circle reflects the status of public opinion for each policy.

That is, each color represents one of the policies listed in the legend in the upper-left corner, so, for instance, red = public support for same-sex marriage. If the dot is filled in, it means gay-friendly legislation about the issue was actually passed in the state. If the dot is an empty circle, it means no gay-friendly legislation exists in the state. And the position of the circle tells you what percent of people in each state support each policy.

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