NEW YORK -- If you were to follow the polls put forth by most American media, you'd guess same-sex marriage divides the country wretchedly in half.
As it turns out, America is certainly divided. But a new national poll commissioned by iMediaEthics that accounted for intensity of opinion has found the issue decidedly less divisive than widely reported. The country may be split, the poll shows, but same-sex marriage is surprisingly a non-issue for many who are often said to oppose it.
While just more than half of Americans support gay marriage in a forced-choice question, the poll found, the proportion of Americans who tolerate it is above 70%. When iMediaEthics broke from the either/or question format, it found that 47% of respondents — a dominant plurality — didn't really care one way or another, suggesting that the narrative of same-sex marriage as a wedge issue either has been overblown or has played itself out in the American public sphere.
David W. Moore, a former Gallup pollster who analyzes media polls for iMediaEthics, breaks downs the results in his article, 7 in 10 Americans 'Not Upset' with Gay Marriage, New iMediaEthics Poll Finds."
"This is a much more accepting public than what other polls typically show," Moore writes. "Instead of a polarized country, with just 6% of Americans in the middle, and the rest firmly on one side or the other ... a plurality of Americans is in the middle – maybe leaning in one direction or another, but willing to accept either the status quo, or a change in marriage laws."
The findings jive with a growing acceptance for gay marriage that other polls have been tracking. In the past three years, four other media organizations have shown national swings of 11, 17, 19 and 23 points in favor of Americans' acceptance of same-sex marriage. Consistent with other polls, the iMediaEthics poll showed a +12 margin in favor of same-sex marriage (53% to 41%) when people were asked whether states should recognize such marriages as valid.
Moore's work can be read regularly on iMediaEthics.org. He heads the site's PollCheck project, in which he scrutinizes poll methodology and presentation from a scientific — rather than a ratings-driven — approach. His findings and analyses appear under the PollSkeptic Report and PollTalk blog.
Sponsored by the Golkin Foundation and conducted by SurveyUSA, the poll was conducted from June 4-6 among 893 adults hailing from every state.
Backgrounder: iMediaEthics, is published by Art Science Research Laboratory, a not-for-profit, co-founded by Rhonda Roland Shearer, with her late husband, Harvard professor and scientist, Stephen Jay Gould. ASRL's non-partisan journalism ethics program, www.iMediaEthics.org, promotes students and young journalists working with professional researchers to foster the media's use of scientific methods and experts before publication. The program also publishes international media ethics news stories and investigations of factual errors and ethical breaches by media outlets. Alexa ranks iMediaEthics among the 15 most visited news media watchdogs on the web.