UCLA National Poll: 7 Out Of 10 College Freshmen Support Gay Marriage

In what is certain to be a staggering blow for the religious right and conservative organizations, as well as the 2012 Republican Party’s attempts to regain the White House, a new poll by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) finds that 71.3% of college freshmen support same-sex marriage equality, and 60.7% of college freshmen believe abortion should be legal. HERI has been “taking the temperature” of college students since the 1960′s.

The report shows a 10% increase in student support of marriage equality in just a two-year period, and a slight increase as well in support of women’s right to be pro-choice.

The Chronicle of Higher Education adds:

The proportion who viewed themselves as “liberal” has varied from a high of 38 percent, in 1971 to a low of 19 percent, in 1981; in the newest survey, it was about 28 percent. “Conservative” students, who constitute about 21 percent of the 2011 respondents, have seen their representation fluctuate from 14 percent in the early 1970s to 24 percent in 2006.

Most students, it is clear, see themselves as someplace in between: In the survey’s 45-year history, the largest proportion of students have consistently characterized their views as “middle of the road.” (In the latest survey, 47 percent do.)

Consider these trends: In 1997, the year that UCLA researchers first began asking freshmen for their views on same-sex marriage, slightly more than half of all respondents said they supported it. In the latest survey, that percentage had reached an all-time high of 71 percent.

The HERI survey, it should be noted, is a large one, canvassing 203,967 first-year, full-time students at 270 colleges across the country.

It’s no wonder that the Republican National Committee and the GOP in general in state after state have been attempting to make voting for college students (as well as for minorities) more difficult. In fact, five million student and minority voters — who tend to vote Democratic — could be impacted in the November, 2012 elections.

President Obama, if he is indeed “evolving,” might find his re-election a great deal easier were he to finally acknowledge his base is more progressive than he has claimed himself to be.