April 20, 2011 1:33 pm ET - by Equality Matters staff
Statistician Nate Silver commented Wednesday on the newest of a series of recent polls showing that a majority of Americans now support full marriage equality for gay and lesbian Americans. Silver noted that opponents of marriage equality “almost certainly no longer constitute a majority” and commented on how the significant change in public opinion might affect Republican efforts to stay in power in 2012 and beyond:
Republican candidates, who have placed less emphasis on gay marriage in recent years, probably cannot expect their opposition to it to be a net electoral positive for them except in select circumstances. If support for gay marriage were to continue accelerating as fast as it has in the past two years, supporters would outnumber opponents roughly 56-40 in the general population by November 2012.
Past trends, of course, are no guarantee of future ones, and it’s always possible that the momentum toward increasing support for gay marriage could flatten out or even reverse itself.
But this does put Republicans in a tricky position. Their traditional position on gay marriage is becoming less popular. But to the extent they disengage from the issue, they may lose even more ground. One way to read the trends of the past few years is that we have passed an inflection point wherein it is no longer politically advantageous for candidates to oppose same-sex marriage, which in turn softens opposition to it among the general public, creating a sort of feedback loop and accelerating the trend. [FiveThirtyEight, via The New York Times, 4/20/11]
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