A Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released this week has found that a majority of New Jersey voters support legalizing same-sex marriage, with 52% in favor, 32% against and 16% undecided. However, given the choice between civil unions and same-sex marriage, 58% said they support civil unions.
There has been a significant drop in the margin opposing same-sex marriage over the past two years however, say pollsters:
“We were surprised by the margin favoring gay marriage, which is much greater than previously reported,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers. “While the number of supporters has grown only a little, the number directly opposing gay marriage has fallen significantly. At the same time, more people say they are unsure or refuse to answer the question. These may be voters who are uncomfortable with gay marriage but who don’t want to express direct opposition, suggesting support is not as lopsided as it appears.”
The Rutgers-Eagleton Poll surveyed 615 registered voters by both landline and cell phone from Aug. 9 – 15. There is a margin of error for the full sample of +/- 3.9 percentage points.
As is commonly found, women are more likely to support same-sex marriage when compared to men at 58% to 47%, with strong support among Millennial generation voters at 77%. As is the established pattern seen nationally, support tapers off to 35% among the over 65s.
Again, there is a familiar split when it comes to political affiliation with 61% of Democratic party supporters in favor, while 58% of identified independent voters saying they support same-sex marriage. However, 51% of Republicans reported opposing same-sex marriage. When asked to identity as “liberals,” “moderates,” and “conservatives,” there was again a familiar trend with 83%, 56% and 18% respectively saying the favor same-sex marriage. However, only 62% of self-identifying conservatives said they are opposed which leaves a big chunk in the “don’t know” category. This is something that caught the eye of researchers:
“We see an interesting pattern, with Republicans and Conservatives much more likely to say ‘don’t know’ to the gay marriage question,” noted Redlawsk. “This suggests either some measure of uncertainty and changing attitudes by these voters, or perhaps reluctance to express a negative view in a state known for support of gay rights.”
Religion also played a factor in support with Catholics favoring same-sex marriage slightly more than Protestants, but how frequently respondents attend religious services being a stronger indicator than particular religious affiliation, with those who attend services more frequently less likely to support same-sex marriage.
Support was also shown to increase in proportion to levels of education. A 46% margin of those with a high school level of education or less said they supported same-sex marriage, while 62% of respondents who attended graduate school said they supported marriage equality.
Interestingly, 73% of respondents said that New York’s recent legalization of same-sex marriage had no effect whatsoever on their views.
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