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Poll: Voters Less Likely To Back Candidate Who Opposes Marriage Equality

October 05, 2011 11:15 am ET by Jamison Foser

The new ABC/Washington Post poll contains some very good news for supporters of marriage equality: Not only do a strong plurality of Americans more say they'd be less likely to support a candidate who favors a ban on gay marriage, there's a significant intensity gap in favor of marriage equality.

Overall, 42 percent of Americans said they'd be less likely to support a candidate who favors banning gay marriage — including 35 percent who would be much less likely to do so. Only 25 percent said they'd be more likely to support a candidate who favors a ban on gay marriage, including 20 percent who said they'd be much more likely to do so.

Among Republicans, 38 percent say they'd be more likely to vote for a candidate who opposes marriage equality, including 29 percent who would be much more likely to do so, while 27 percent say they'd be less likely to do so, including 20 percent who would be much less likely. The data provided by the Post doesn't break out results by Democrats and Independents, but it does indicate that "Leaned Republicans" constitute 25 percent of the survey, so we can extrapolate responses for those who do not lean Republican (i.e., "Leaned Democrats" and Independents):

So not only is a sizable plurality less likely to vote for a candidate who favors a ban on gay marriage, there's more intensity among marriage equality supporters. And among the vast majority of Americans who are not Republican base voters, support for a ban on gay marriage is increasingly toxic. 

To put the 35 percent who are much less likely to vote for a candidate who favors a ban on gay marriage in context, 34 percent said they are much less likely to vote for a candidate who wants to let states opt out of Social Security. 

And here's how much public opinion has shifted in recent years: A 2004 ABC/Washington Post poll found that 55 percent of Americans thought it should be "illegal for homosexual couples to get married," while only 39 percent thought such marriages should be legal.