The numbers have shifted dramatically in the past decade. In 2004, only 30 percent of Americans said they supported same-sex marriage, while 62 percent disagreed. Half of those polled at the time said they strongly opposed allowing gays and lesbians to marry.
Democratic pollster Fred Yang noted how quickly public opinion has shifted on the issue, even compared to interracial marriage, which is now almost universally accepted.
“It took about 25 years for interracial marriage to get from 30 percent support to 60 percent,” he said. “It took same-sex marriage ten years.”
The share of the public backing same-sex marriage has even jumped from just two years ago, when 53 percent of Americans backed it and 42 percent did not.
That’s due in part to big increases in support among Republicans (up 13 percent since 2013), seniors (up seven percent), and Hispanics (up 18 percent).
The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll comes just one week following the release of the General Social Survey, a comprehensive and widely respected survey that has measured trends on a huge array of American attitudes for more than four decades.
The GSS survey found that 56 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage, up from 48 percent who said so in 2012, and also found opposition at only a third of Americans.