Top pollsters for George W. Bush and Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns released a memo yesterday spelling out the latest trends in polling data on marriage equality, and the news is decidedly positive for supporters:
The recent passage of marriage for same-sex couples in New York comes at a crucial juncture in national public opinion on the issue: public support for the freedom to marry has increased, at an accelerating rate, with most polls showing that a majority of Americans now support full marriage rights for all Americans.
The trend-line indicates a fairly steady increase in support for marriage, which has accelerated since 2009. The average level of support of 5 surveys conducted in 2009 was 40.8%, while the average of 5 surveys conducted in to date 2011 is 50.6%. In the 15 years covered by the surveys in the chart, the rate of increase in support for the freedom to marry averaged slightly less than 1% a year (0.85%) between 1996 and 2009. The rate of increase in support accelerated to 5% per year in 2010 and 2011.
Moreover, we expect overall support to continue to increase given that age differences show that younger adults are substantially more supportive of marriage than older adults; the ABC/WaPo poll shows that strong majorities of adults under 50 support legalizing marriage for gay and lesbian couples, for instance.
This only increases the pressure on the president to come out for marriage equality, his own pollster indicating he would likely not pay a political price for embracing a cause that his base — especially the young — favor overwhelmingly. Here’s a chance for him to lead and get at the front of the pack rather than calculate, as many of his liberal critics accuse him of doing too often.