Jan van Lohuizen, a former George W. Bush pollster with a Ph.D. from Rice, is on a mission to show that opposition to same-sex marriage is a political and demographic dead end, propped up by a shrinking core of the old, the undereducated, and the highly churched. Bitter clingers, if you will, to the idea of traditional marriage.
“I have any number of gay friends who are Republicans, but what makes me tick is that I have concerns that this is another issue that would limit the growth of the Republican party,” van Lohuizen told me in a phone interview.
“If you believe that the government is better off if it is governed by Republicans than Democrats, you have to worry about issues that impede the growth of the party. And this is one.”
Together with Joel Benenson, former lead pollster for President Obama’s first campaign, van Lohuizen has looked at decades of polling data on gay marriage and come to some interesting conclusions in a series of memos the pair has distributed to policymakers, think tanks, and political media"
These are the key factors they point to:
- Most significant, support for gay marriage is accelerating - from about1 percent a year until 2009, and then an increase to 4 or 5 percent.
- The coalition supporting gay marriage is more broad-based than the coalition opposing it. The opposition is really concentrated in a few really small groups, evangelical whites, tea-party Republicans, older voters, and whites that do not have a college degree.
- Republican opposition to same-sex marriage is increasingly tenuous. Tea-party Republicans oppose gay marriage 84/13, while Republicans who describe themselves as opposed to the Tea Party oppose gay marriage by 52/47 splits.
- 51 percent of Republicans under 30 support gay marriage in their state.
If this datum alone holds, one might think, gay marriage is a fait accompli in the near to medium term. And indeed, the polls report just that feeling among the broader public: 83 percent of voters, supporters and opponents included, think that gay marriage will be legal nationally in the next five to ten years.