Huge leap in GOP support for marriage

Timothy Kincaid

February 28th, 2014

The New York Times has a new poll showing that Republicans have a slight lead in popular support going into this year’s elections. But the take away from this poll is rather surprising:

Further, Republican lawmakers appear out of step with the public on a range of issues, according to the survey. On immigration, same-sex marriage, marijuana legalization and gun control, Republican lawmakers hold to the minority position. Some of these policy matters illuminate the party’s internal divisions. Half of people under age 45 who lean Republican support legalizing marijuana, and a majority of the same cohort of Republicans also backs same-sex marriage.

Over all, Republican support for same-sex marriage is on the rise. In the fall of 2012, just 24 percent of Republicans backed legalizing the unions; now 40 percent of Republicans do so.

If accurate, that would be a two-thirds increase in just two years. It would also suggest that the future of anti-gay advocacy in the United States looks dim.

Rob in San Diego

February 28th, 2014

I never believe reports of republicans supporting marriage equality. In fact not even democrats are in lock step when it comes to equality. Take blacks for instance, when it came to prop 8 in California, 75% of black voters voted YES.


February 28th, 2014

Yes, this poll is incredible to say the least.

If this result gets confirmed by another survey, we need to do some original analysis and do more detailed surveys to try to understand what’s going on (so as to be able to help it along).

I offer a hypothesis. Perhaps the Olympics coverage (and possibly the Ugandan coverage) strongly associated anti-gay with anti-American values and with America-haters (perhaps through a knee-jerk “If the Russkies are against it, then I’m all for it!”)

But, really, I haven’t got a clue. This latest poll doesn’t jive with anything else.

Timothy Kincaid

February 28th, 2014


Those are good possibilities. It doesn’t hurt that our opponents in the news recently have been proposing shutting down free speech or imprisoning gay people for life and are countries that Republicans view askance in the first place.

It may also be related to a new social assumption that anti-gay = hate.

While I believe it is possible to be opposed to gay marriage and not be motivated by hatred, the vocal opponents of equality have done their very best to prove otherwise. And with the ever ratcheting up of nastiness, this may just be a gut reaction that says “no no no no I’m not like them”, such that anything gay is now going to earn a certain amount of knee-jerk support from Republicans who are either sick of the crazy hate or who don’t want to be associated with it.

But whatever the reason, if it’s confirmed then it is definitely cause for celebration. With something like 80% of Democrats and 40% of Republicans, we would have small effort to bring about equality in a much quicker time than anticipated.

Priya Lynn

March 1st, 2014

Very interesting thoughts, FYoung.


March 2nd, 2014

F Young: I think you’re on to something. Research in the 1950s (see, e.g. Gordon Allport’s The Nature of Prejudice) found that the most effective campaigns against antisemitism (a major prejudice at the time) were the ones that simply portrayed it as un-American and that having the Holocaust in recent memory helped shift people’s attitudes.

We may also be seeing some follow-on effects of DADT repeal; being allowed to serve in the military on the same terms as everyone else is a strong indicator of “social respectability” for any demographic group. It becomes a lot harder to publicly oppose a couple’s marriage when one or both of them just came back from Afghanistan (I also suspect that DADT repeal is one of the reasons for the closing trend in the black/white gap on GLBT issues, along with, as Timothy has conjectured, the enactment of marriage equality in DC).


March 2nd, 2014

Great insights, FYoung and ebohlman. I would just add that, after DOMA was largely struck down, the denial of marriage became much more starkly harmful than before, and the one obvious solution is marriage equality.

If discrimination against gay or LGBT people has become un-American, we should be able to parlay that into effective pro-equality advertising. It will require sound research, though. We’re up against some shrewd players.

The result is a little disquieting, however, because we haven’t seen it mirrored in a poll that cuts across party identification — at least not yet.

Rob in San Diego, I wouldn’t put too much credence into the study you mention. The sample was very small, and the findings were called into question almost immediately. We’ve also seen contrasting results in other parts of the country.


March 3rd, 2014

I would like to bring up the Bradley effect. People may feel that it is becoming less acceptable to state to strangers that they are against something when that attitude is considered prejudiced in a large portion of society. It may have no effect on their voting, however.

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