As of this month, 60% of Americans now support same-sex marriage, up from 55% last year, and the highest Gallup has found on the question since it was first asked in 1996.
Regarding political affiliation, the breakdown is Democrats at 76% support, independents at 64% and Republicans at 37%. However:
Those who are opposed to gay marriage are a good deal more likely to say that a candidate’s stance on the issue can make or break whether that candidate receives their vote (37%) than those who are supportive of gay marriage (21%). And both are more likely to say the issue is a defining factor than they have been in the past.
On both ends of the political spectrum, this could make same-sex marriage a more salient issue in the 2016 election than it has been previously. While pro-gay marriage voters are more likely to hold a political candidate’s feet to the fire than in the past, there is an even larger bloc of anti-gay marriage voters who could reject a candidate for espousing marriage equality.
While an anti-same-sex marriage position should not present a challenge for GOP candidates in the primary, it could be more challenging in a general election setting given majority support among all Americans.
I’d add that GOP presidential candidates who talk adamantly about marriage being a 2,000 institution that apparently has never changed and must not be altered by the judiciary (some would allow by popular vote) are going for the base, and in all likelihood never going to be president.
But they’ll carry the hardcore religious right vote.