The Washington Post

How the political fight on gay marriage is over — in 2 charts

The Supreme Court's announcement Friday that it will consider two major same-sex marriage cases in its next session ensures that the issue will be front and center in the first six months of 2013.

Regardless of how the Court rules on these two cases, however, public opinion on gay marriage -- and the politics surrounding the issue -- are headed in a very clear direction.

Here's a look at data from Washington Post-ABC News polling on the question since 2004:

And, here's a chart detailing Pew polling on support/opposition to gay marriage since 1996:

It doesn't take a professional pollster to understand what the chart tells us. In 1996, as the country was easily re-electing Democratic President Bill Clinton, two-thirds of the public opposed gay marriage. Sixteen years later, as the country was re-electing Democratic President Barack Obama just 43 percent opposed it while 48 percent favored it.

Go deeper into the Pew numbers -- and thanks to Pew, you can! --  and you see why those trend lines won't be reversing themselves.  In 2011-2012, 62 percent of people 18-29 supported gay marriage -- by far the strongest support among any age group. During that same time period, just 32 percent of those 65 or older supported gay marriage.  

The simple truth: Support for gay marriage tracks directly with age. The younger you are, the more likely you are to support it. Given that, it's hard to imagine gay marriage getting less popular as the years go on.

Whatever the Supreme Court does with its two gay marriage cases next year, the die has been cast on the politics of the issue. By the 2016 presidential election, this could well be a decided issue that neither party -- yes, that includes Republicans -- spends much time talking about. 

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
The Democrats debated Thursday night. Get caught up on the race.
The Post's Chris Cillizza on the Democratic debate...
On Clinton: She poked a series of holes in Sanders's health-care proposal and broadly cast him as someone who talks a big game but simply can't hope to achieve his goals.

On Sanders: If the challenge was to show that he could be a candidate for people other than those who already love him, he didn't make much progress toward that goal. But he did come across as more well-versed on foreign policy than in debates past.
The PBS debate in 3 minutes
Quoted
We are in vigorous agreement here.
Hillary Clinton, during the PBS Democratic debate, a night in which she and Sanders shared many of the same positions on issues
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the polls as he faces rivals Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz heading into the S.C. GOP primary on Feb. 20.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
Fact Checker
Trump’s claim that his border wall would cost $8 billion
The billionaire's claim is highly dubious. Based on the costs of the Israeli security barrier (which is mostly fence) and the cost of the relatively simple fence already along the U.S.-Mexico border, an $8 billion price tag is simply not credible.
Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio
Upcoming debates
Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands
Most Read

politics

the-fix

Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.