Join Email List | About Us | AMERICAblog News
More about: DADT | DOMA | ENDA | Immigration | Marriage | 2012 Elections

On marriage, "people across the political spectrum are rethinking their positions"

| Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK

Ben Smith from earlier today:

In a new polling memo intended to shape politicians' decisions on the question of same-sex marriage, the top pollsters for Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama jointly argue that support for same-sex marriage is increasingly safe political ground and will in future years begin to "dominate" the political landscape.

The pollsters, Republican Jan van Lohuizen and Democrat Joel Benenson, argue in their memo, which can be read in full here, that support for same-sex marriage is increasing at an accelerating rate and that the shift is driven by a politically crucial group, independents. They are expected to unveil the memo, which was commissioned by the group Freedom to Marry and shared exclusively with POLITICO, at a press conference at the National Press Club today.
I attended that press conference hosted by Freedom to Marry with two pollsters, Joel Benenson who polls for Democrats (including Obama) and Dr. Jan van Lohuizen who polls for Republicans (including George W. Bush.) They shared their analysis of public opinion on same-sex marriage. And, it confirms what we've been seeing. Marriage is on the move:
The two pollsters who conducted this analysis were Joel Benenson, President of Benenson Strategy and a leading Democratic pollster, and Dr. Jan van Lohuizen, President of Voter Consumer Research and a leading Republican pollster. This study was commissioned by Freedom to Marry as part of our new campaign to overturn the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and expand public and political support for the freedom to marry.

This study found support for the freedom to marry rose about 1% per year over a 13-year period between 1996 and 2009. But in 2010 and 2011, support for the freedom to marry shot up 5% per year. Now polls show that 53% of Americans support the freedom to marry and that almost 70% of voters under the age of forty support the freedom to marry.

“The remarkable surge over the last two years can’t be explained by generational change alone,” says Republican pollster Dr. Jan van Lohuizen. “It suggests that people across the political spectrum are rethinking their positions — and deciding in favor of the freedom to marry.”
This was a presentation that I would never have expected to see a couple years ago. But, the numbers are there.

Benenson ran through the numbers, noting "a lot of people are rethinking their positions on marriage." van Lohuizen identified three areas of change: 1) the generational change, which is important, but not enough to explain the overall change; 2) he echoed what Benenson said, "people are changing their thinking"; and 3) there's been a change of in the level of intensity of support. Those who strongly support marriage are now even with those who strongly oppose it. In the past, the "strongly oppose" had the advantage.

No surprise, I was most interested in what this means for candidates running in 2012, since none of the candidates yet support marriage equality. Although, as we know, Obama is evolving. So, I asked both pollsters would say to their clients, given that we've now got a majority of Americans supporting marriage equality. Both were quite tactful, but didn't give any real insights beyond saying they would advise their candidates of the numbers they found in their analysis.

These numbers defy the current conventional wisdom in DC, where it's closer to 1996 than 2011 on LGBT equality. The trendline is moving in our direction -- and moving fast. Far too many elected officials, including the President, are behind the trend. And, on the GOP side, well, their presidential candidates include Bachmann and Santorum. They're still fighting over who can be the biggest homophobe. So out of touch.

And, we still don't even have one Senate or House Republican cosponsoring DOMA repeal.

blog comments powered by Disqus