Americans support gay marriage; don’t believe Americans support gay marriage

The latest Gallup poll on gay marriage does not have many surprises– again, a majority of the public supports gay marriage.  Actually no increase from last year, but looking at the ongoing trends, it’s hard to believe support will not continue to increase.

Trend: Do you think marriages between same-sex couples should or should not be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages?

Among a number of additional analyses, I thought what was most interesting is just how much the support of the youngest Americans has jumped (52% to 70% in just three years) in such a short time span (though, I suppose part of this could be an artifact of small sub-samples):

Support for Legal Same-Sex Marriage by Age, 1996, 2010, and 2013

And, finally, to get to the headline of the post, most Americans actually think the opponents of gay marriage are still the majority:

What is your impression of how most Americans feel about same-sex marriage -- do you think most Americans are in favor of same-sex marriage or opposed to same-sex marriage? May 2013 results

Surely, that’s telling us something– other than the fact that public opinion is a pretty bad guide– I’m not exactly sure what.  I do wonder, though, if this is a crude indicator for the fact that those opposed to gay marriage are “louder” about it and thus have more influence on what people think about “most Americans.”

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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