A plurality of U.S. voters support same-sex marriage, a reversal from four years ago when the public clearly opposed such unions, a poll released today shows.
Most voters also support the legalization of marijuana, according to the survey by Hamden, Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University. In the Nov. 6 election, voters in three states approved measures legalizing same-sex marriage and in two states legalized recreational marijuana use.
The poll shows 48 percent backing same-sex marriage while 46 percent oppose it. In a 2008 Quinnipiac survey, 55 percent were against same-sex marriage while 36 percent favored it.
“It seems pretty clear that attitudes toward same-sex marriage in American society are changing rapidly,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of Quinnipiac’s polling institute. “While the country remains split on the issue, supporters have come pretty far in the last four years.”
Much of the support comes from voters ages 18 to 29, who back it by almost 30 percentage points -- 63 percent to 35 percent.
Most men are against same-sex marriage, though that opposition has eroded from a 30-point margin four years ago, 61 percent to 31 percent, to a seven-point margin in the latest survey, 50 percent to 43 percent.
Among women, 52 percent back the unions while 42 percent oppose them. In 2008, the numbers were almost exactly the reverse, with 51 percent in opposition and 40 percent in favor of same-sex marriage.
Voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington state approved referenda legalizing same-sex marriage in last month’s election, marking the first time such measures have passed. Previously, same-sex marriage became legal in states including Massachusetts and New York as a result of legislation or court rulings.
Also in the election, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana was approved in Washington and Colorado.
The Quinnipiac poll found 55 percent of voters nationwide supporting marijuana’s legalization, with 41 percent opposing it.
“American voters seem to have a more favorable opinion about this once-dreaded drug,” Brown said.
As with same-sex marriage, the backing was strongest among younger voters, with those from 18 to 29 in favor of legalization by almost 40 percentage points -- 67 percent to 29 percent. Voters over 65 opposed legalization, 56 percent to 35 percent.
‘Matter of Time’
“This is the first time Quinnipiac University asked this question in its national poll, so there is no comparison from earlier years,” said Brown. “It seems likely, however, that given the better than 2-1 majority among younger voters, legalization is just a matter of time.”
By 53 percent to 37 percent, voters declined to blame superstorm Sandy that battered the Northeast U.S. -- especially parts of New York and New Jersey -- on global warming. A partisan divide was evident on the question, with 55 percent of Democrats attributing the storm to climate change, compared with 37 percent of independents and 14 percent of Republicans.
Overall, 66 percent said they were very or somewhat concerned about climate change, while 34 percent said they weren’t too concerned or not concerned at all.
The survey of 1,949 registered voters, conducted Nov. 28- Dec. 3, has an error margin of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.
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