Why the political fight on gay marriage is over — in 3 charts

March 25, 2013

In our Monday newspaper column, we declared the political fight on gay marriage over -- even as the Supreme Court prepares to wade into the legal and policy debate this week. (Make sure to read our counter-argument on the issue here.)

While we used 800 words (or so) to make the "it's all over" case in the newspaper, we really can do it in just three charts. (Sidebar: "Name that Tune" is an underrated game show. "I can name that tune in two notes" was a terrific passive-aggressive thing to say to your opponent.)

1.  This is the chart everyone knows by now. Public opinion has moved strongly in favor of legalizing gay marriage over the last decade. And -- breaking news here -- politicians tend to do what they think the public wants them to do.

2. It's not just that opinions are shifting on gay marriage but how they are shifting that matters. Support and opposition are split far more on generational lines than on partisan ones. Among self-identified Republicans aged 18-49 in the most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, a majority -- yes, majority -- said same sex marriage should be legal.  Compare that to just 25 percent of Republicans aged 65 or older who feel the same way and you see that on this issue it's not about "D" or "R" as much as it is about the year you were born.

3. And, while young people are the most supportive of gay marriage -- eight in ten in the most recent Post-ABC survey -- every generation is growing more accepting of the idea as they age. That's a critically important finding since it suggests that as young people age -- and as middle age people grow older -- they don't reverse course and become less supportive of the idea of gay people being married.

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.
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Sean Sullivan · March 25, 2013