Trendline from pollster's summary report (PDF).
Joel Benenson teamed up with Dr. Jan van Lohuizen to crunch the numbers on marriage equality polling and they found "opinion is shifting across the board, including among Republicans. Independents have been one of the catalysts of the recent surge, with double-digit increases in support in recent years."
From Freedom To Marry:
Today at the National Press Club, two leading pollsters, one Republican and one Democratic, released a new analysis of polling data spanning more than a decade regarding the dramatic shift in public attitudes on the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. The results show steady growth in support over a 13-year period, with a striking and undeniable acceleration over the past two years. This surge is the result of evolving positions among every group analyzed, including older Americans and Republicans, groups that have been the least supportive of the freedom to marry.
Joel Benenson is Founding Partner and President of the Benenson Strategy Group and served as the lead pollster and a senior strategist for President Barack Obama during the 2008 election.
Dr. Jan van Lohuizen is President and one of the founding members of Voter Consumer Research, has directed public opinion research projects since 1977. He served as Bush's pollster in 2000 and 2004.
Benenson is quoted as saying:
“The political landscape is changing rapidly. 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.”
And it isn't a matter of waiting for old people to "exit the polling sample." People are changing their minds, including seniors. (I've heard grandparents often have grandkids.) Lohuizen says:
“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.
Since 2006, support has increased:
- 15% among seniors
- 13% among Independents
- 8% among Republicans
Support for marriage equality has moved from a progressive position to a centrist/mainstream position. Republicans definitely have some catching up to do, but so do all electeds. Freedom to Marry's Evan Wolfson:
“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. 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.”
More conclusions and data from the study:
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.
- 68% of 18-29 year olds (up 11 points since 2005)
- 65% of 30-39 year olds (up 23 points)
- 52% of 40-49 year olds (up 17 points)
- 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.
The path to winning the future is clear, from the pollster's joint statement:
- First of all, it is clear that the public is 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.
- Second, the intensity of opinion is changing at a rapid pace. As of today, supporters of marriage for gay couples feel as strongly about the issue as opponents do, something that was not the case in the recent past.
- Third, support strongly correlates with age. As Americans currently under the age of 40 make up a greater percentage of the electorate, their views will come to dominate.
Or as Iowan Democrat Mike Gronstal's daughter succinctly explained to her elders voicing oppostion: "You've already lost."
Politico's Ben Smith has more on this:
Bush, Obama pollsters see 'dramatic' shift toward same-sex marriage
In a new polling memo intended to shape politicians' decisions on the question of same-sex marriage, the top pollsters for Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama jointly argue that support for same-sex marriage is increasingly safe political ground, and will in future years begin to "dominate" the political landscape.
The pollsters, Republican Jan van Lohuizen and Democrat Joel Benenson, argue in their memo, that support for marriage is increasing at an accelerating rate, and that the shift is driven by a politically crucial group, independents. They are expected to unveil the memo, which was commissioned by the group Freedom to Marry and shared exclusively with POLITICO, at a press conference at the National Press Club today.
Might as well get used to it, America. This isn't such a radical concept, after all:
A more indepth analysis of the polls used used is here (PDF).