USC Dornsife/L.A. Times Poll: Support for legalizing same-sex marriage in California continues to grow

June 10, 2013

Poll shows shift among older voters’ support of gay marriage

Contact: Michelle Salzman Boston at or (213) 821-9311; Suzanne Wu at or (213) 740-0252

June 10, 2013 —  A majority of California voters believe same-sex couples should be allowed to legally marry in the state, according to results from the latest USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences/Los Angeles Times Poll.

Fifty-eight percent of Californians support the right for same-sex couples to marry, with 49 percent “strongly” in favor and nine percent “not so strongly” in favor. Only 36 percent of California voters oppose same-sex marriage in the state, with 30 percent “strongly” opposed and six percent “not so strongly” opposed.

Overall, support has climbed since a March 2010 USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times, which found 52 percent of Californians in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage and 40 percent opposed.

Seniors, in particular, are shifting toward support of same-sex marriage. Californians over the age of 65 are now evenly split on the matter, with 47 percent opposed and 46 percent for legalization — an 11 point jump in favor of same-sex marriage from the March 2010 USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll, which found 53 percent opposed and 35 percent of seniors in favor.

According to the latest poll, voters age 18 to 29 show the highest levels of support for the issue, with 76-21 percent in favor.

“There’s been an assumption for four years that support for same-sex marriage is driven by demographics, and there’s no question that we see much stronger support among younger voters than older voters,” said Dan Schnur, director of the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll and director of the Unruh Institute of Politics at USC. “But that level of support among older voters is extremely important. What the shift among older voters shows is that this isn’t just a generational change, but that a whole cohort of voters is actually changing their position on the issue.”

Support is also increasing across party lines. Democrats favor legalizing same-sex marriage by 70-24 percent, up from 63-31 percent support in the March 2010 USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll. A majority of Republicans oppose, by 58-35 percent, down from 62-28 percent in 2010.

Overall, Californians support legalizing same-sex marriage in the state across racial lines: 61-34 percent of White voters, 58-30 percent of Asian voters, 51-44 percent of Latino voters and 50-39 percent of Black voters are all in favor.

Split on proposal for transgender students

The USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll also surveyed voters on a proposal for California schools to allow transgender students the ability to participate on sports teams and to use bathrooms that correspond with the gender they most identify with, not their sex at birth.

Californians were split on the proposal, with 46 percent opposed to the idea and 43 percent in favor. Of those respondents, 36 percent said they “strongly” opposed the proposal and 11 percent “somewhat” opposed it. In contrast, 24 percent “strongly” favored the proposal and 19 percent said they “somewhat” favored it.

Parents were more sharply divided on the issue. California voters with children opposed the proposal by 52-39 percent, while those without children favored it by 45-44 percent.

The USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll was conducted May 27-June 2, 2013, by Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and Republican polling firm American Viewpoint. The full sample of 1,500 registered voters has a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percentage points.

Additional poll results and methodology are available here.

TWITTER: @usclatpoll

About the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences/Los Angeles Times Poll

The USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll is a series of statewide public opinion polls in California, designed to survey voter attitudes on a wide range of political, policy, social and cultural issues.

Conducted at regular intervals throughout the year, the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll is one of the largest polls of registered voters in the state and has been widely cited, helping to inform the public and to encourage discourse on key political and policy issues.

About USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences is the heart of the university. The largest, oldest and most diverse of USC’s 19 schools, USC Dornsife is composed of more than 30 academic departments and dozens of research centers and institutes. USC Dornsife is home to approximately 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students and more than 750 faculty members with expertise across the humanities, social sciences and sciences.

About the Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Times is the largest metropolitan daily newspaper in the country, with a daily readership of two million (three million on Sunday) and a combined print and interactive local weekly audience of 4.5 million. The fast-growing draws over 10 million unique visitors monthly.