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After Obama Endorsement, Fewer Republicans Support Gay Marriage

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Support for Legalizing Gay Marriage among Democrats, Independents and Republicans, March 2012 to May 2012. (The Washington Post)

After President Obama announced his personal support for legalizing gay marriage earlier this month, much of the attention has focused on how this has moved the opinions of minorities his way. A poll this week shows Republican support for gay marriage has also moved since, but it has gone the other way.   

Polling by ABC News and The Washington Post has tracked support for legalizing gay marriage by party since 2004. Eight years ago, 16 percent of Republicans thought it should be legal. That steadily increased up to 39 percent in March of this year.

After Obama’s announcement, Republican support for legalized gay marriage dropped 10 points, back down to 29 percent. By comparison, support among independents increased by 3 points, and among Democrats by 4 percent. 

This comes during a week when opinion by race appears to be moving in significant ways. A greater percentage of non-whites support legalizing gay marriage than whites in the same The Washington Post/ABC poll, a phenomenon that the poll has registered before but not since March 2011.

In the survey taken this month, 61 percent of non-whites agreed that same-sex marriage should be legal, compared to 50 percent of whites. That included an increase from 41 to 59 percent among black voters, though the Washington Post called those results a “tentative result” because of the small sample.

That's in line with results in Maryland this week, where a new law legalizing gay marriage will be on a ballot referendum in the fall. Public Policy Polling found a 16-point jump in the percentage of black voters planning to vote for the law, from 39 to 55 percent in early March.

But a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll this week suggested that none of this could make much difference in the election results in November. When asked about the impact of Obama's announcement on gay marriage, 17 percent of adults said his position made them more likely to support Obama, while 20 percent said it made them more likely to support Romney. More than sixty percent said it would make no difference. 

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