Poll: Among Democrats, Support For Marriage Equality Surges

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With the Democratic party fully embracing marriage equality, it should come as no surprise that two-thirds of Democratic voters now support the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. A Pew Research Center poll released this morning demonstrates a surge of 15 percent since 2004 when fewer than half of Democrats believed in equal rights for gay people.

Substantial increases are evident among other voters as well. While the Democratic party isn’t courting staunch Republicans these days, with more than 50 percent of Independents in support, according to Pew, it isn’t likely to lose any votes. Independents and Republicans support marriage equality at 51 percent and 24 percent respectively.

Surprising, however, is how little Barack Obama’s endorsement of marriage equality—while igniting a firestorm of debate—influenced the American people.

Two consecutive national surveys conducted since May 9, when Obama made his announcement, show 48% in favor of allowing gay marriage and 44% opposed. This is virtually unchanged from a survey conducted in April, before the president’s statement.

But Obama’s announcement may have rallied the Democratic base – particularly liberal Democrats – to the issue. Democrats supported gay marriage by a 59% to 31% margin in April – that stands at 65% to 29% today. Most of this shift has come among liberal Democrats, 83% of whom now support gay marriage, up from 73% earlier this year.

Attitudes have not shifted among any other segment of the public following Obama’s announcement, including younger Americans, who continue to back gay marriage at the same rate as before, and African Americans, who remain, on balance, opposed to gay marriage.

Perhaps the most salient discovery by Pew: 51 percent of Americans believe sexual orientation cannot be changed as compared to 42 percent nine years ago. Yet, 36 percent still believe they know you better than you know yourself.