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Obama shift on gay marriage tilts US attitudes

By Reuters 28 May 2012

President Barack Obama's declaration of support for gay marriage may have prompted some Americans, especially blacks and Hispanics, to reconsider their opposition to letting homosexuals wed, an analysis of Reuters/Ipsos online poll data showed on Friday. By Patricia Zengerle 

On May 9, Obama became the first U.S. president to say he believed same-sex couples should be allowed to get married.

His position was hailed by Democrats, gay rights groups and others as a benchmark for civil rights in the United States and criticized by Republican activists and conservative Christian leaders as a divisive campaign issue before the Nov. 6 election.

The poll data found that African-Americans in particular were less likely to oppose gay marriage after Obama’s announcement than before. Before May 9.34% of blacks opposed gay marriage. Afterward, 23% did.

The poll asked participants whether they opposed gay marriage, supported same-sex civil unions, supported gay marriage or were unsure.

Lower opposition by black Americans did not translate into support for gay marriage, according to the data.

Support by African-Americans for civil unions rose by 9 percentage points to 28% after Obama spoke, but support for gay marriage slipped by 2 points to 29% from 31%, and the percentage of African-Americans who were unsure rose 5 points to 21%.

“Black Americans are a critical constituency for the president looking forward to November, and this attitudinal shift is good news for Mr. Obama. If he is able to lead and push opinion, rather than only react to it, he will be able to more effectively govern if he wins a second term,” Ipsos pollster Julia Clark said. Obama is America’s first black president.

Hispanic support for gay marriage rose by 5%age points to 51% from 46% after Obama announced his new position. Hispanic opposition to gay marriage also shifted downward by 3 points to 20% from 23%.

White Americans’ attitudes changed least. Whites’ opposition to gay marriage slipped by just 2 points to 25%, and support for it rose, also by 2 points to 41% from 39%, the analysis found.

For the poll respondents overall, the percentage of people who opposed gay marriage dropped to 24% after Obama announced his shift, from 27% previously.

And the%age who support marriage for same-sex couples rose to 41% from 39%.

Data were collected online via Ipsos’ ongoing daily polling for Reuters. The data were taken from an aggregate analysis of all data collected so far since January 2012.

Questions on support for gay marriage as well as race have been in place since the beginning of the poll tracking. The data were cut so that all ‘pre’ figures predate Obama’s announcement about his support for gay marriage, and all ‘post’ data follows the announcement.

The precision of Reuters/Ipsos online polling is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll had a credibility interval of plus or minus 0.7 percentage points for white Americans surveyed before May 9, and plus or minus 2.1 points for whites afterward.

For blacks surveyed before May 9, the credibility interval was plus or minus 1.7 points. It was plus or minus 5 points for blacks after May 9. For Hispanics, the interval was plus or minus 1.5 points for the “before” data and plus or minus 4.6 points for the “after.” DM

 

Photo: U.S. President Barack Obama arrives for a campaign rally at the State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa May 24, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque 

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