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Poll: Americans’ ideology, age drive views on same-sex marriage

Friday, June 6, 2014
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marriage equalityDavid Zalubowski, AP

Nine-year-old Lillian Gutierrez, left, joins her mother, Veronica, both of Denver, in waving placards at a protest outside the Federal Courthouse in downtown Denver on Wednesday, April 9, 2014. The protest, sponsored by Support Marriage Equality in Colorado, was held as a federal appeals court weighs inside the Denver courthouse whether to give an important victory to gay couples’ right to marry in Utah and Oklahoma.

Ideology and age mark two significant factors in public attitudes about same-sex marriage, according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll that finds 77 percent of adults under age 30 support marriage equality, compared to just half as many seniors.

The poll, released Friday, finds that overall, a majority of Americans (56 percent) support allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, not significantly different from the all-time high of 59 percent three months ago, and that 50 percent see same-sex marriage as a constitutional right, vs. 43 percent who don’t – a key question that observers see as being decided by the U.S. Supreme Court within the next two years.

According to the poll, age and ideology are the biggest drivers of views on same-sex marriage. A statistical analysis holding other factors constant, including partisanship, finds that these two are the strongest independent correlates of attitudes on the issue.

The poll finds that, in addition to 77 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds (63 percent “strongly”), same-sex marriage is broadly supported by 30- to 39-year-olds (68 percent). That falls to half of 40- to 64-year-olds, and bottoms out at 38 percent of seniors.

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Similarly, it’s favored by 84 and 62 percent of liberals and moderates, vs. just 37 and 22 percent of “somewhat” and “very” conservatives, respectively.

Fifty-eight percent of whites overall support gay marriage, including, notably, 75 percent of white women with a college degree. Support is significantly lower among blacks, 44 percent. Hispanics fall between the two, at 52 percent support.

And despite the flurry of court action, same-sex marriage does not appear to be on the front burner in this year’s midterm elections, according to the poll’s data.

In fact, only a third of Americans said same-sex marriage is important to their vote preferences, last on a list of eight issues.

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