8/15: Views on Same-Sex Marriage: Supporters Look to Feds, Opponents More to States

August 15, 2014 by  
Filed under Featured, National, National Poll Archive, Politics

A majority of Americans favor legalizing same-sex marriage, but there is little consensus about whether the decision should be made on the federal or state level.  Supporters of legalizing same-sex marriage think the issue should be decided for the entire country by a federal law.  Half of those who oppose it believe it should be determined by the states.

And, while Americans’ position on legalizing same sex marriage is a driving factor in the debate, political party affiliation matters, too.  Democrats are more likely to turn to the federal level, and Republicans look more to the states.  Independents are closer to the Democrats on whether to seek federal or state action.

Support for same-sex marriage has grown significantly over the past decade.  And, there has been a sea change in attitudes among Americans toward people who are gay over the past thirty years. Sexual orientation has become less of a societal taboo.  More than seven in ten Americans personally know someone who is gay.  And, for more than half of adults nationally, say their circle of friends, family, and colleagues now includes more people who are gay than a decade ago.

Most people believe it would make no difference to their vote if their party nominated someone who was gay.  And, although about one in three parents would still be upset to learn their child was gay, there has been a major shift in attitudes and acceptance since the mid-1980s.

Complete August 15, 2014 USA McClatchy-Marist Poll

“You would be hard pressed to find an issue that’s had a bigger shift in public opinion over the last several decades than this one,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

Poll Points

  • 51% of registered voters think the decision to legalize same-sex marriage should be made by federal law, 44% believe it is a state’s issue, and 6% are unsure.
  • Support for a federal law to resolve the debate over same-sex marriage is being propelled by Americans who believe it should be legalized.  Although a notable proportion of opponents are also looking to the federal government to settle the issue, 50% of Americans who oppose legalizing same-sex marriage believe it is a state matter.
  • A partisan divide exists.  64% of Democrats and 52% of Independent voters favor a federal mandate.  In contrast, 59% of Republicans want the issue to be decided at the state level.

Majority Supports Same-Sex Marriage

  • When it comes to support for legalizing same-sex marriage, 54% of Americans either strongly favor or favor doing so.  According to trend data from the Pew Research Center, support for gay marriage has been on an upswing, reaching a plurality of support among Americans in 2011 and majority support just last year in 2013.
  • Attitudes about legalizing gay marriage fall along party lines with more than six in ten Democrats, 62%, favoring the action.  A similar proportion of Republicans, 63%, are against it.  Age also matters.  65% of Americans under 45 years of age support legalization of same-sex marriage compared with 44% of their older counterparts who share this view.
  • More than one in ten Americans, 12%, has changed their opinion on legalizing same-sex marriage, favoring it now while opposing it previously.  Only 1% now opposes allowing same-sex couples to marry when they once favored legalization.

Sea Change

  • 71% of Americans know someone who is gay, and 52% of adults nationally say the number of gay and lesbian people they know has grown over the past ten years.  This is especially true for younger Americans.  When the Pew Research Center asked a similar question in 1999, only 39% of Americans said they had a friend, colleague, or family member who was gay.
  • More than eight in ten adults, 83%, say knowledge that a congressional candidate is gay or lesbian would make no difference in how they vote.  14% would be less likely to cast their ballot for a gay or lesbian candidate.  The Los Angeles Times Poll asked this question of Americans in 1985.  At that time, 49% said a candidate’s sexual orientation would not make any difference in deciding their vote, and 47% reported they were less likely to cast their ballot if a candidate was gay.
  • 62% of Americans would not be upset if their child were gay, including 48% who would not be upset at all and 14% who describe their reaction as not very upset.  35% of adults nationally would be upset if their child came out to them.  This includes 13% of residents who would be very upset and 22% who would be somewhat upset.  Age matters.  21% of Americans under 30 would be upset if their child shared this with them compared with about one-third of adults between 30 and 59 years of age and nearly half, 48%, of Americans 60 or older.
  • But, attitudes are significantly different than they were in 1985.  In a Los Angeles Times Poll, conducted nearly thirty years ago, 89% of Americans said they would be troubled if their child was gay.  In that earlier poll, 64% of Americans characterized their reaction as very upset and 25% were somewhat upset.  Five percent said they would not be very upset, and only 4%, then, said they would not be upset at all.

Marist Poll Methodology

Nature of the Sample and Complete Tables


8/14: McClatchy-Marist Poll

What are Americans’ attitudes toward same-sex marriage?  Do Americans know more or less people who are gay or lesbian than in the past, and how would residents nationally feel if they found out their child was gay?

Find out in the latest national McClatchy-Marist Poll.  To read the full McClatchy article, click here.



8/14: Clinton Leads GOP Rivals, but Loses Ground

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is still favored against several of her potential Republican opponents among registered voters nationally, but she no longer is backed by the majority of the electorate.  In fact, Clinton’s once double-digital lead against GOP hopefuls former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has eroded.  Clinton’s change of fortune is largely due to a shift among independent voters among whom she still leads but not by the margins she did before.

Complete August 14, 2014 USA McClatchy-Marist Poll

But, as for who the Republican nominee will be, that’s still anybody’s guess.  With nearly one in four Republican and Republican leaning independents undecided, an increase from just months ago, no clear front-runner has emerged from the pack.  Bush and Christie currently top the leader board with low double-digit support.  Ted Cruz is the only other Republican candidate to reach ten percent.

“There is no pre-season for team Clinton,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “She needs to perform at Super Bowl level from start to finish.”

Poll Points

  • Clinton leads Jeb Bush, 48% to 41%, among registered voters nationally (Trend).  She receives similar support against Chris Christie, 47% to 41% (Trend), and Rand Paul, 48% to 42% (Trend).  In each of these contests, the proportion of voters who back the Republican candidates is indistinguishable, and Clinton fails to break fifty percent.
  • Clinton’s support among independent voters against each of these three potential rivals has declined from a previous poll conducted in April.  She is down among independents by 10 points against Bush, nine points against Paul, and six points against Christie.
  • In each of these contests, a gender gap exists.  However, Clinton has lost support among, both, men and women since the previous poll.
  • The national electorate is extremely polarized in each of these presidential matchups.  Clinton is backed by most Democrats and the Republican base is unified against her, regardless of the GOP candidate.

Crowded GOP Field Fails to Yield Front-Runner

  • 23% of Republicans and Republican leaning independents are undecided about who they will support in the 2016 Republican primary.  Jeb Bush and Chris Christie each receives 13% while 10% support Texas Senator Ted Cruz.  Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan and Florida Senator Marco Rubio are close behind with 9%.  Texas Governor Rick Perry and Senator Rand Paul are backed by 7%.  Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal trail.
  • Although the sample size is small, there has been a notable shift in the preferences of Tea Party supporters.  15% of these voters now back Cruz, up from 6% in April.  In contrast, Rand Paul’s support among the Tea Party has fallen from 20% in the previous poll to 7% currently.
  • Men are more likely than women to have a candidate preference in the GOP primary.  30% of women are undecided compared with 14% of men.

Marist Poll Methodology

Nature of the Sample and Complete Tables

8/13: McClatchy-Marist Poll

In the 2016 race for the White House, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is still ahead of her potential Republican rivals, but her lead has shrunk.  Which voting group is most responsible for the turn of the tide?

Find out in the latest national McClatchy-Marist Poll.  To read the full McClatchy article, click here.

8/12: National Leaders Strike Out with Voters as Mids Approach

August 12, 2014 by  
Filed under Featured, National, National Poll Archive, Politics

Fueled by his lowest approval rating in handling foreign policy and numbers that are barely higher for his handling of the economy, President Obama’s overall approval rating remains upside down with only four in ten registered voters nationally giving him a positive score.  Although his job performance continues to be viewed positively by Democrats and negatively by Republicans, his approval from independent voters has declined from a previous poll conducted in April.  President Obama’s favorability rating, overall, has also declined from that poll, and is now under water.

President Barack Obama


But, Americans could be uttering Casey Stengel’s baseball refrain, “Can’t anybody here play this game?”  Ratings for both the Republicans and Democrats in Congress are even substantially below those of President Obama.  The GOP matches its lowest score, and the Democrats are pretty much stuck at the low approval rating they’ve had for some time.

Although the GOP is now favored over the Democrats in the so-called “generic ballot” test owing to independent voters, this reversal of fortune from the April survey does not automatically convert into a “wave” election for the Republicans.  Fewer than three in ten voters indicate that their impression of President Obama, despite his low numbers, will be a major factor in deciding their vote for Congress this November.

In fact, these poll numbers point to the failings of both political parties to address public concerns.  The proportion of voters who now consider themselves to be independent represents nearly half of the electorate and is at an all-time high.

The bottom line: this gloomy national view all adds up to, by greater than two to one, Americans thinking the country is headed down the wrong track.

“With neither political party having an upper hand with voters, expect a scramble for votes as the mid-term elections approach,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “Don’t expect candidates to echo Johnny Mercer’s 1940’s lyrics, ‘Accentuate the positive; eliminate the negative.’”

Complete August 12, 2014 USA McClatchy-Marist Poll

Poll Points

  • President Obama is at his lowest point with voters for his handling of foreign policy.  Only 33% of registered voters nationally rate the job President Obama is doing in this area positively.  61% disapprove, giving him his highest negative score to date (Trend).
  • With respect to two of the major hot spots internationally, Ukraine and the conflict between Israel and Hamas, less than one-third of the nation’s voters approve of the president’s handling of these crises.  Only 30% believe the president is performing well with regard to the conflict between Israel and Hamas.  Similarly, just 32% score the president well when it comes to his policy with Ukraine.
  • President Obama does not score much more confidence from voters when it comes to the economy.  39% rate the job he is doing positively, and 58% rate him negatively (Trend).
  • Overall, 40% of registered voters approve of the job Barack Obama is doing as president.  The president’s support among independent voters has waned since last spring (Trend).
  • President Obama’s favorability rating has declined from 49% in April to 43% currently and is upside down (Trend).
  • Congress fares even less well.  The congressional Republicans are back to their lowest approval rating with 22% (Trend)Democrats remain unpopular and are still at 32% (Trend).

Party Politics

The Republicans edge the Democrats by five points, 43% to 38%, on the national generic ballot for the mid-term congressional elections.  This is a reversal from April when the Democrats topped the GOP, 48% to 42%.  Democrats’ support among independents has eroded since last spring, going from 43% to 26% now.  Interestingly, the GOP has not been the beneficiary of the Democrats’ loss of support from independents.  They have remained at 40% in both polls.  The proportion of independents who are undecided or not backing either party has doubled since April (Trend).

  • When considering their impression of President Obama, voters are more likely to back Republicans, 42%, than to support Democrats, 32%.
  • But, how much do voters’ impressions of President Obama count toward their vote in November?  52% say President Obama is not a factor at all in deciding their vote, including 61% of independents, 49% of Democrats, and even 40% of Republicans.  Another 17% of registered voters view Obama as a minor factor in their decision.  29% of voters see the president as a major factor when making their choice this fall.  42% of Republicans, 28% of Democrats, and 22% of independents share this view.
  • Talk of impeachment is a turnoff for voters.  69% do not think Congress should begin impeachment proceedings against the president.  91% of Democrats, 69% of independents, and even 48% of Republicans have this view.
  • Discussion of impeachment tips the scales in favor of the Democrats.  Voters are more inclined to vote Democratic, 43%, than to back Republicans, 38%, in November.
  • Similarly, suing President Obama is viewed unfavorably by 58% of voters, including 87% of Democrats and 55% of independents.  A majority of Republicans, 57%, want to go forward with this action, and 34% do not.
  • Suing the president also moves the electorate towards voting for the Democrats, 42% to 37%, over the Republicans in November.
  • Party politics in Washington has chased voters from both parties.  45% of voters, a record high, describe themselves as independent and not aligned with either party.

Wrong Course 

64% of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, and only 28% describe it as on the right track.  This is the lowest optimism measure since the fall of 2011 and is appreciably lower than it was during the fall of 2010 (Trend).

Marist Poll Methodology
Nature of the Sample and Complete Tables

8/11: McClatchy-Marist Poll

Do registered voters nationally approve of how President Barack Obama is performing in office?  Will voters’ views of Mr. Obama impact this year’s mid-term elections?

Find out in the latest national McClatchy-Marist Poll.  To read the full McClatchy article, click here.


8/5: NYS Voters Wary About Moreland Commission Controversy, But it Doesn’t Change Much for Governor’s Contest in November

August 5, 2014 by  
Filed under Featured, NY State, NY State Poll Archive

Many New York State voters believe Governor Cuomo’s staff acted inappropriately when they engaged with members of the Moreland Commission which was established by the governor to root out corruption in state government.  A majority of registered voters also think the governor’s office did not proceed ethically although few think any laws were breached.  And, there are political costs for the governor’s image among voters familiar with the controversy.


But, the big takeaway for this November’s elections is that most of the electorate considers the controversy to be either a minor factor or not a factor at all in deciding their vote for governor.  Governor Andrew Cuomo still outpaces his GOP opponent Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino by a wide margin although his lead has narrowed slightly from a month ago.  Cuomo continues to receive support from seven in ten Democrats (slipping from eight in ten) and is backed by a majority of independents.  He still has support among nearly a quarter of Republicans although that is down from three in ten last month.  His approval rating as governor is little changed. There has been a decline in the proportion of voters who have a favorable impression of the governor.

In a region beset by gubernatorial scandals, New Yorkers generally stand by their governor.  Governor Christie’s traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge is seen as worse than Governor Cuomo’s Moreland Commission controversy.

“Among voters keyed into the issue the political storm is taking a toll on their views of Governor Cuomo.  But, he has managed to keep the fallout at arm’s length where his re-election is concerned,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “The problem for Rob Astorino is that the controversy involving Governor Cuomo’s office has not, so far, shaken up the race.  Neither have voters’ impressions of Astorino improved.”

Complete August 5, 2014 NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll

Poll Points

  • 62% of registered voters believe Governor Cuomo’s staff should not have had input into the work of the Moreland Commission.  This includes 71% of Republicans, 63% of independents, and even, 59% of Democrats who share this view.
  • 52% of the electorate thinks the governor’s staff did something unethical by getting involved with the work of the commission, but only 11% believe they did something illegal. These opinions are largely consistent across party lines.
  • Only 23% of voters see the Moreland Commission controversy as a major factor in deciding their vote for governor in November.  71% describe the controversy as either a minor factor, 41%, or no factor at all, 30%.
  • 54% of registered voters statewide, including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate, support Governor Cuomo’s re-election compared with 23% who back Republican Rob Astorino.  Last month, Cuomo outdistanced Astorino, 59% to 24%.
  • The decline in Cuomo’s margin over Astorino is the result of a decrease in the governor’s support among Democrats from 81% to 72%, and a drop in the proportion of Republicans who back the governor from 30% to 24%.  Regionally, the governor’s dip is greatest in New York City where his support fell from 80% to 66% in the month.  Statistically, there is little change, overall, in support for Astorino.
  • Cuomo still bests Astorino, 44% to 32%, among voters who believe New York State needs major changes or is broken and beyond repair.  But, last month he led Astorino by 19 points among these voters, 50% to 31%.
  • 53% of registered voters currently have a favorable impression of Governor Cuomo, the lowest rating he’s received since taking office (Trend).  His score continues to decline from 58% last month and 63% since March.
  • Astorino is still not known by a majority of voters.  53%, do not offer an opinion of him.  22% rate him positively, and 25% view him negatively.
  • Democratic primary challenger Zephyr Teachout is not known by most voters.

Moreland Meddling, The More You Know…

  • Since the Moreland Controversy made news, only 49% of voters are now confident the governor is changing the way things work in Albany for the better, a decline from 55% last month.  Among voters who are familiar with the Moreland Commission controversy (45% of the electorate), 42% think the governor is changing Albany for the better, and 53% disagree.  In contrast, 56% of voters who are unfamiliar with the controversy think Governor Cuomo is making progress in how state government works, and 31% do not hold this view.
  • 46% of the electorate believes Governor Cuomo is fulfilling campaign promises, and 39% do not.  47% of voters who are aware of the controversy do not think the governor is keeping his campaign promises.  For those who are unaware of the controversy, 32% share this view.
  • Cuomo’s job approval as governor, overall, is 47%, little changed from the 48% he received in July (Trend).  Among voters familiar with the controversy, 43% give the governor a positive job rating.  In contrast, the governor receives a 51% approval score from voters unfamiliar with the recent Moreland Commission news.  The legislature continues to be unpopular.  27% approve of the work of the New York State Senate, (Trend) and 27% give a positive score to the New York State Assembly (Trend).
  • As noted above, a majority of voters statewide, 53%, have a favorable impression of the governor including 52% of those who have heard about the controversy and 54% of those who have not.  But, the governor’s unfavorable rating is 39% among voters who are aware compared with only 25% among those who are unaware of the controversy.
  • 60% of voters see Cuomo as a good leader for the state, and 58% believe he cares about the average person.  These views are relatively unchanged from last month. Yet, among voters who have heard of the controversy, 56% think Governor Cuomo is a good leader compared with 64% among those who are unaware of the issue with the Moreland Commission.
  • There is little movement in voters’ views about the direction of the state since last month.  48% of voters think the state is on the right path, and 45% do not.  In July, 47% had a positive opinion of the course the state was taking, and 46% had a negative view (Trend).  The awareness of the controversy makes no difference in voters’ assessment of the direction of the state.
  • Although a slim majority of voters, 51%, think the state is in need of major changes, and an additional 6% believe it is broken and beyond repair.  The numbers of New Yorkers who think the state is in need of major change has declined during Cuomo’s tenure as governor.  When Cuomo first took office in January 2011, 73% of voters wanted to see major changes in state government, and 10% thought the state was could not be fixed.

Cuomo vs. Christie:  Competing Controversies

Marist Poll Methodology
Nature of the Sample and Complete Tables

8/3: Americans Not Optimistic About Middle East Peace; Polarized Electorate for 2014 Agrees on Do Nothing Congress

Americans are not confident a lasting peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians is in the foreseeable future.  Although Republicans are more likely than Democrats to doubt a settlement can be reached, a majority of Americans, regardless of party, are not encouraged.  There is also a greater consensus among Republicans in their support for Israel.  About four in ten Democrats and independents also sympathize with the Israelis over the Palestinians, but the plurality of each of these groups is not sure with which side they have more empathy.

Click Here for Complete August 3, 2014 USA NBC News/The Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll Release and Tables

When it comes to an assessment of the accomplishments of the current Congress, most Americans agree, regardless of party, that Congress has come up short.  More than seven in ten believe this year’s congressional output has been abysmal.  Nearly half of Americans describe the session as having been very unproductive.  Partisan lines are quickly drawn though when people are asked about their hopes for the results of this fall’s elections.  Democrats and Republicans each hope their respective party will control both the House and Senate.

Poll Points:  Middle East

Poll Points:  Congress

  • 72% of Americans believe Congress has been unproductive this year including 47% who describe their work as very unproductive.  23% characterize it as productive including only 3% who view their accomplishments as very productive.
  • This low opinion of Congress cuts across partisan lines.  77% of independents, 73% of Republicans, and 71% of Democrats give Congress a thumbs down.
  • However, partisanship resurfaces when Americans express their hopes for the outcome of the 2014 elections.  Overall, Americans split, 42% Democrats to 41% Republicans, as to whom they want to emerge with the majority in Congress next term.  85% of Democrats and 92% of Republicans want their respective party to win the majority.  Independents lean Republican 38% to 34%.
  • Americans divide along similar lines when expressing their wishes for the results of the U.S. Senate.  43% want the Democrats to hold the majority and 42% want Republicans to control the Senate.  Again, party differences are stark.  83% of Democrats want their party to hold the Senate, and 94% of Republicans want their party to take over the chamber.  Independents evenly divide, 38% to 38%.
  • In both instances, independents are most undecided about which party they favor.  However, about one in ten Democrats are also unsure about which party they want to see control each chamber. Fewer Republicans are uncertain.

Marist Poll Methodology
Nature of the Sample and Complete Tables

7/25: Candidate Clinton? 50-50 Odds Are Never a Sure Bet

July 25, 2014 by  
Filed under Blog, Featured, Lee Miringoff

There are two schools of thought on whether Hillary Clinton is running for president in 2016.  Some say she is and some say she isn’t.

But, is Clinton in essence already on the campaign trail?  I don’t know.  What have we learned about whether she will eventually run for real?  I don’t know.

Why? Because if Hillary Clinton is running for president, she’d be doing exactly what she’s been doing lately… a book tour, public pronouncements, TV appearances etc.  If Hillary Clinton is not running for president, she’d also be doing exactly what she’s been doing lately… a book tour, public pronouncements, TV appearances etc.

There are several interesting take-aways from our recent NBC News/Marist Polls of Iowa and New Hampshire on what the public thinks about the former First Lady, former US Senator, and former Secretary of State.  First off, Democrats are ready for Hillary.  Her favorable rating with her party’s faithful is 89% in Iowa and 94% in New Hampshire.  WOW!  And, she trounces VP Joe Biden in both of these states in early hypothetical matchups by 50 points in Iowa and 56 points in New Hampshire.  DOUBLE WOW!!

Dems may be ready for Hillary, but the rest of the voters in these two states are less than eager.  In fact, she is closely matched against most of her potential GOP rivals, and is under 50% in both states against all comers except Scott Walker in Iowa and Ted Cruz in New Hampshire.  To make matters even less comforting for the Clinton for President team, each of the Republicans runs better in pairings against Clinton than their own favorability rating.  In other words, Hillary Clinton unifies the GOP opposition.  Right now, she’d make Iowa and New Hampshire, states that Obama carried both times, swing states.  Not a pretty picture for the Democrats.

So, Hillary Clinton may ultimately toss her hat into the ring.  And, she may have a clear path to her party’s nomination.  But, she will have to go through a prolonged battle against her eventual GOP opponent before anyone should talk of her winning the White House.

7/21: Fashion Forward?

Coco Chanel, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Dior, Anna Wintour, Christian Louboutin, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada: the list goes on.  These influential names and brands in fashion are familiar to many Americans.  Because we are familiar with these names, does it mean we are too focused on fashion? Many Americans, 68%, think we focus too much on fashion, while one quarter, 26%, say that the attention is about right.  Only 7% believe fashion deserves more consideration.  However, a majority, 55%, also say how they dress is an important part of who they are.  Fewer Americans, 45%, report that choosing their outfit isn’t something they think about.

Click Here for Complete July 14, 2014 Marist Poll Release and Tables

Does style need to come with a couture price tag? Most Americans say it does not.  More than eight in ten Americans, 86%, say it’s possible to be stylish on a limited budget, while only 14% believe good fashion is just for those with a lot of money.  But, while great style may not need to break the bank, many Americans, 65%, believe that fashion communicates status and divides people into social classes.  Far fewer, 35%, disagree.

Aside from money, does fashion also require as much creativity as playing a musical instrument or painting a picture? Here, Americans divide.  Just over half, 53%, of Americans say it doesn’t but 47% believe good style calls for creative thinking.  Although putting an outfit together may call for creativity there are pressures to fit in.  While a majority of Americans, 57%, believe someone who dresses very differently than most people is stylish, a notable proportion, 35%, say they’re strange.

Marist Poll Methodology

Nature of the Sample and Complete Tables

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