- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 20, 2015

As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to weigh in on the issue, a record 60 percent of Americans now support same-sex marriage, according to Gallup.

The 60 percent is up from 55 percent support last year and is the highest level Gallup has found on the question since it was asked in 1996.

Though support divided somewhat on party lines, it reached record highs across the spectrum, with 76 percent support from Democrats, 64 percent support from independents, and 37 percent from Republicans.

About a quarter of Americans said they only vote for a political candidate who shares their views on the issue, while 43 percent say it’s one of many important factors and about a quarter say it’s not a major issue in how they vote.

But those who are opposed to gay marriage are more likely say a candidate’s stance on the issue can make or break their support (37 percent) than those who support gay marriage (21 percent).

“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,” wrote Gallup’s Justin McCarthy. “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.”

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential frontrunner, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, the other declared Democratic presidential candidate, support gay marriage, while 2016 Republican contenders and potential contenders have generally opposed it.

“As Hillary Clinton seeks the Democratic nomination in 2016, her support for gay marriage may be even more important as her party embraces the platform more closely than it has in the past. Clinton, like President Barack Obama, changed her stance in 2013 upon her exit from the State Department,” Mr. McCarthy wrote.

“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,” he wrote. “At the same time, same-sex marriage, like many other moral issues, tends to rank well behind issues such as the economy, terrorism and education when Americans name the issues that are most likely to influence their vote.”

Results for the poll were based on interviews with 1,024 adults from May 6-10 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

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