Poll Finds Unprecedented 25-Point Gap Between Supporters and Opponents of Marriage Equality

A 25-point gap now separates supporters and opponents of marriage equality in California, with 59 percent of residents backing same-sex marriage and just 34 percent opposing it, a new Field survey finds. This represents “the largest margin of support for the issue in the three-plus decades the Field Poll has been asking the question” and shows a big increase for marriage since voters approved Proposition 8 in 2008. Significantly, support increased among all groups, including Protestants, Catholics, African Americans, Latinos and older Americans and pollsters say that opponents of marriage would have a difficult time overcoming the trend should the measure go back to the ballot:

Poll Director Mark DiCamillo said the move to a 25-point gap goes beyond the gradual increase in support that has been expected as young voters age and “replace” older voters in the electorate. “This is now showing that opinions are changing irrespective of generational replacement,” DiCamillo said. “This is real change.” […]

DiCamillo said voters still hold the judiciary in relatively high regard, and years of gay marriage court battles in California are likely contributing to the opinion shift. “The winds of change are blowing in other states (and) when judges start ruling the same way, I believe that has an influence,” he said.

Proposition 8 was found unconstitutional by a federal judge in San Francisco, “and his ruling was upheld by a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this month. But the appeals court is weighing a request from gay marriage opponents for a larger panel of judges to review the decision, and ultimately, the matter could be headed for the U.S. Supreme Court, with a decision years away.”

Political scientists have suggested that conservative efforts to outlaw marriage equality may have actually contributed to its growing popularity by increasing the visibility of LGBT issues and making “a topic that seemed taboo a little bit less taboo.” “One of the fascinating things is that with all this discussion out there whether positive or negative, being able to say the words, just made people more comfortable,” Professor Brian Powell of Indiana University told ThinkProgress in 2010.