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Behind the Numbers
Posted at 07:02 AM ET, 05/15/2012

Voters split on Obama's gay marriage announcement

Voters divide straight down the middle on President Obama’s recent statement that he supports allowing gays and lesbians to get married, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

As with the issue itself, views of the president’s major announcement last week are closely related to partisanship, education and age, with Democrats, more highly educated and younger adults generally supportive of Obama’s move. But there also a twist to the latest breakdowns: although African Americans typically oppose gay marriage, most in the new poll have favorable impressions of Obama’s support of it.

Overall, voters split 46 percent in favor of the move, and 46 percent opposed to it. Intensity runs marginally against the president’s statement supporting legal gay marriage. White Protestants are the most stridently opposed.

Fully 70 percent of Democrats express favorable opinions of the Democratic president’s move, as do 49 percent of independents (43 percent hold unfavorable ones). Republicans are lined up on the other side, with 76 percent holding unfavorable views, including 65 percent “strongly unfavorable” impressions.

Age is a similarly big divider, with more than six in 10 adults under 30 years old supportive of the president’s announcement, and a similar proportion of seniors opposed to it.

More than half of all African Americans in the poll back the president’s statement: 54 percent have favorable impressions; 37 percent unfavorable ones. The sample size of black respondents is relatively small in this poll (results have a more than 10-point error margin), but the results are an intriguing contrast to where African-American opinion has been on the subject of gay marriage.

In a large-scale Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll in November, 58 percent of African Americans called same-sex marriage “unacceptable;” far fewer, 35 percent said it was “acceptable” in terms of their own values and morals.

Nearly two-thirds of those who live in states that have legalized gay marriage have positive views of Obama’s statement; in the 31 states where the practice is banned by voter preference, it’s a more even 41 percent in favor, 51 percent opposed.

(Additional breakdowns from the poll linked here.)

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By  |  07:02 AM ET, 05/15/2012

 
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