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Pew poll finds major shift among Democrats in support of marriage equality

Marriage equality

By Jacob Combs

Polls on marriage equality often give a narrow, snapshot view of public opinion, capturing a moment in time but displaying remarkable variation between companies and universities based on methodology and sample composition.  A new poll out from the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life, however, compares the results of a brand new July 2012 survey with similar surveys from 2004 and 2008 and demonstrates a marked increase in support for marriage equality, especially among Democrats.

In the July survey, Pew found that the American public at large favors marriage equality by a 48-44 percent split, an increase of nine percent in support since 2008 and 17 percent in the last eight years.  The most dramatic cause of that shift, though, has been an incredible increase in support amongst Democrats, who favor equal marriage rights by a huge margin of 65-29 percent.  Those numbers represent a 10-point increase since 2008 and a 15-point increase since 2004.  Support amongst independents have also risen by 7 points since 2004, with 51 percent of the July respondents favoring marriage equality and 40 percent opposed.

Support amongst Republicans has shown the smallest increase, just 5 percent in the last eight years.  Republicans surveyed by Pew overwhelmingly opposed marriage equality, by a 70-24 percent margin.  Perhaps the most significant data point in Pew’s new poll is the gap in support between Democrats and Republicans, which rose from 23 percent in 2004 to 41 percent this July.  Clearly,on this issue, the parties are truly talking past one another because they have moved to such differing opinions on the issue.

In addition, Pew found that 63 percent of respondents born after 1980 support equal marriage rights for gays and lesbian.  As this new Pew poll demonstrates, marriage equality continues to be a winning political issue, with support increasing dramatically across a wide swath of the American public.  But our community still has a lot of outreach to do amongst Republicans in order to show them that supporting equal marriage rights can be a conservative and fundamentally pro-family move.  That won’t be an easy task, of course.  But it’s something that we will simply have to strive for.


  • 1. Sagesse  |  August 1, 2012 at 8:21 am


  • 2. Larry  |  August 1, 2012 at 8:58 am

    Um, these numbers don't make sense. Consider the change from 2004-2012. If Democrats improved by 15% since 2004, Republicans improved by 5%, and Independents improved by 7%, how could the country as a whole have improved by 17%?! The general public's improvement should be a weighted average of all the parts, so somewhere around 10%.

    10% is still a big improvement, just that it's easy to overwhelm people with raw numbers. We should make sure the numbers make sense.

  • 3. Gregory in SLC  |  August 1, 2012 at 9:36 am

    Republicans surveyed by Pew overwhelmingly opposed marriage equality, by a 70-24 percent margin"

    ….and using Chick-fil-A to very graphically reinforce this:

    Texas GOP chooses tea party-backed Cruz for Senate:

    Terrific! TX Conservative Ted Cruz Serves Chick-fil-A at Victory Party (conservative site):

  • 4. velocitygrass  |  August 1, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    The change since 2004 is actually 25% Democrats, 14% Independents, 7% Republicans. The 15/7/5 numbers are since 2008 and come out at 9% overall.

  • 5. Straight Ally #3008  |  August 1, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Let them eat Chick-fil-A.

    It amazes me that they cling to this. I just heard a few callers on a radio show say that since God's judgment will befall the country due to same-sex marriage, they must oppose it. Shouldn't we have been struck down a long time ago for any number of reasons, from their perspective?

  • 6. Gregory in SLC  |  August 1, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    So true! And so obvious looking at their "Christian" religion from an outside perspective

    @ Shouldn't we have been struck down a long time ago for any number of reasons, from their perspective?

  • 7. Mike in Baltimore  |  August 2, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Most people look to the top of the columns to see if there is a word, number, etc. to tell what information the column contains.

    Are you telling us you didn't?

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