Top Republican and Democratic pollsters to President Obama and former-President George W. Bush this morning announced a rapid bipartisan acceleration in public support for same-sex marriage equality across almost all demographics, including Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, suggesting that politicians should feel more comfortable supporting equality in the institution of marriage, and supporting the repeal of DOMA.
“The recent passage of marriage for same-sex couples in New York comes at a crucial juncture in national public opinion on the issue: public support for the freedom to marry has increased, at an accelerating rate, with most polls showing that a majority of Americans now support full marriage rights for all Americans,” say the pollsters, Joel Benenson of Benenson Strategy Group, and Jan van Lohuizen of Voter Consumer Research.
“America’s elected officials are lagging behind the American people, a majority of whom have opened their hearts and changed their minds and now support the freedom to marry with accelerating momentum,” said Evan Wolfson, of Freedom To Marry, who commissioned the study and hosted the event. ”This authoritative analysis by leading pollsters in both parties will strengthen Freedom to Marry’s federal campaign and help make the political case that supporting the freedom to marry is not only the right thing to do, but the right thing to do politically—on both sides of the aisle.”
“The political center of gravity on the freedom to marry has shifted dramatically since 1996, when Congress first voted on the question, and it’s time for politicians and political advisors to catch up with the change,” Wolfson added. “If the American people can go from 27% support in 1996 to 53% in 2011, with even stronger support among younger Americans across the political spectrum, so can those who seek to lead America and be on the right side of not just history, but politics.”
The polling pair announced their findings at New York City’s National Press Club, where they listed five major polls and detailed the acceleration over time of public support, from a low of 27% in 1996 — just fifteen years ago — to an average this year of 51%, and a high this year of 53%, including “solid majority support from the critically important block of Independents.”
Moreover, we expect overall support to continue to increase given that age differences show that younger adults are substantially more supportive of marriage than older adults; the ABC/WaPo poll shows that strong majorities of adults under 50 support legalizing marriage for gay and lesbian couples, for instance.
o 68% of 18-29 year olds (up 11 points since 2005)
o 65% of 30-39 year olds (up 23 points)
o 52% of 40-49 year olds (up 17 points)
o By contrast, 45% of 50-64 year olds and 33% of 65+ support legalizing gay
marriage – though even those numbers are up 8 and 15 points, respectively.
Similarly, Gallup reports that 70% of 18-34 year olds and 53% of 35-54 year olds support
legalizing same-sex marriage, compared to 39% of adults 55+.
As generational change occurs, we expect that the numbers will continue to shift in support.
The polling team notes not only is the public “in the process of rethinking its position on the issue,with all political groups – Democrats, Independents as well as Republicans – and all age groups more likely to support marriage for same-sex couples,” but, “the intensity of opinion is changing at a rapid pace,” and, as, “Americans currently under the age of 40 make up a greater percentage of the electorate, their views will come to dominate.”
“The political landscape is changing rapidly,” said Benenson. “The momentum is clearly in favor of extending the freedom to marry to gay and lesbian Americans, and the generational dynamics suggest this momentum will only continue.”
“The remarkable surge over the last two years can’t be explained by generational change alone. It suggests that people across the political spectrum are rethinking their positions—and deciding in favor of the freedom to marry,” said Lohuizen.
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