On Gay Marriage, Prepare to Be Assimilated…Or Not…

Photo credit: Jeff Belmonte via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Photo credit: Jeff Belmonte via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

One of the most popular talking points on gay marriage is that Republicans need to dump their opposition or face dire consequences from a surge in the number of Millenials, who it is argued are more in favor of gay marriage than their elders.  As the latest breakdown of the new Gallup poll on marriage shows, however, there’s a big gap between favoring something and voting on it:

The issue is increasingly important to voters, though still only 26 percent said it is a make-or-break issue and that a candidate must share their opinion on the issue in order to win their vote.

Among those, support for traditional marriage helps Republicans more than it hurts: 37 percent of those who oppose gay marriage said a candidate must agree with them, compared to only 27 percent who support recognition of same-sex marriage.

Please note two things from the above passage: First, only one-fourth of voters consider this issue important.  In other words, three-quarters are apathetic about it in their voting patterns, and it’s simply a nonissue for most Americans at the ballot box.  Second, among those few Americans for whom it is an issue, the traditionalist view holds a 10 point advantage.  One should also note that this second number has gone up 11 points since 2008 according to Gallup.  This is in spite of the much vaunted youth surge that was supposed to revolutionize electoral politics.

When Republicans face the voters in 2016, they’re going to have a choice to make: Do they want to stand for traditional marriage (for what is also currently an electoral winner), or do they want to join the hip, new trend… that no one really cares about.

Nick Arnold is a researcher for American Principles in Action.