Skip to main content
ABC News
Politics Podcast: Why Public Opinion Changed So Dramatically On Same-Sex Marriage

During the span of 25 years, same-sex marriage went from being an unimaginable idea to settled law. During a shorter period — just about a decade — it went from being one of the most high-pitched culture war debates to something that politicians and activists hardly talk about.

The data behind that evolution is striking. At the beginning of the millennium, about two-thirds of Americans opposed same-sex marriage, and a third supported it. Today those numbers have flipped. Seventy percent of Americans now support it, with Republicans showing majority support for the first time in Gallup’s history just last month.

For those who study public opinion, the trajectory of the fight over same-sex marriage stands out. Why did we see such relatively swift change? Why were politics and public opinion so ultimately malleable? And what can that tell us about today’s culture wars?

In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, we speak with journalist Sasha Issenberg, whose new book “The Engagement: America’s Quarter-Century Struggle Over Same-Sex Marriage,” addresses some of those questions.

You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button in the audio player above or by downloading it in iTunes, the ESPN App or your favorite podcast platform. If you are new to podcasts, learn how to listen.

The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast is recorded Mondays and Thursdays. Help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Have a comment, question or suggestion for “good polling vs. bad polling”? Get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments.

Why It’s So Hard To Poll People About The Death Penalty

It’s difficult to poll how many people believe in QAnon

Galen Druke is FiveThirtyEight’s podcast producer and reporter.