(CN) – In a sign that sexual orientation is no longer a deciding factor for voters, a poll released Monday showed that American voters are more likely to vote for a gay candidate than someone over the age of 70.
A Reuters/Ipsos national poll found 34% of respondents said they are “much” or “somewhat” less likely to vote for a candidate who is gay. The figure is especially notable when compared with the 48% of those polled who say they are “much” or “somewhat” less likely to vote for someone over the age of 70.
The mere presence of Pete Buttigieg, an openly gay man running for president as a Democrat, speaks to the country’s evolution on gay politicians over the past decade.
When Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton faced off for the Democratic nomination in 2008, both candidates were reluctant to discuss LGBT rights and neither championed same-sex marriage. Four years later, with political consultant Fred Karger, it was the Republicans who boasted the nation’s first openly gay presidential hopeful for a major party.
‘There has been a vast change in what the country views as acceptable,” Andrew Flores, a government professor at American University in Washington, D.C., told Reuters.
Monday’s poll is good news for Buttigieg, an Afghanistan war veteran whose husband is a teacher, but how it bodes for the incumbent or two Democrats is unclear: President Donald Trump turns 73 next week, and Democrats Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders – at first and second in polls, respectively – are also septuagenarians.
Reuters noted the poll asked voters only about their general acceptance levels of different demographics and does not indicate preferences for specific candidates.
The poll was conducted with the assistance of the Williams Institute at UCLA to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising – a series of riots that took place in 1969 to protest police raids on a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn in New York.
Stonewall is widely credited with kicking off the LGBT rights movement in the United States.
The poll was conducted online nationwide between May 29 and June 5 and gathered responses from 2,237 adults. The poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2 percentage points.