Tuesday, March 5, 2013

California Leading the Country on Liberal Social Agenda

Although recent polls indicate the country has shifted to the left on some issues, including gay rights, marijuana use, gun control and illegal immigration, California is in a major swerve. The state has an image of being avant-garde on social practices, but voters have historically been more conservative than the residents of the Bay area or Hollywood.

Two recent Field Polls show on marijuana legalization and gay marriage, California has moved dramatically left of recent statewide elections on the subjects and historic polling trends (which Field Research has maintained since WWII). Support for gay marriage has been less than a fifty-fifty proposition during the last decade.  In fact, a ban on gay marriage passed with 52 percent in 2008. But, just as the Supreme Court reviews the constitutionality of the 2008 ban, 61 percent of Californians say they support gay marriage.

The repositioning of gay marriage as a civil right for a sympathetic group from being a special agenda item of a controversial lifestyle has been one of the most extraordinary changes in American politics and polling.
The latest surge in support is at least partially attributed to the significant changes in minority support for the issue (African Americans/Asian Americans from 41% to 64% support; Hispanic up 6 points to 56%). However, the shift is across the board so that even Republicans support went up 13 percent to 39 percent approval. 

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