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Obama and Gay Marriage: Opinions Divide and Sharply, Poll Finds

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(NEW YORK) -- Americans divide essentially evenly in their responses to President Obama’s new position on gay marriage, with views more strongly negative than positive and stark divisions across political, ideological and other groups -- including a broad gender gap.

All told, 46 percent in this ABC News/Washington Post poll express a favorable impression of Obama’s statement in an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts last week that he personally has come to support gay marriage, while 47 percent respond unfavorably.  That includes a 10-point tilt towards “strongly” negative rather than strongly positive views, 38 percent vs. 28 percent.

Mirroring a wide gender gap in Obama’s support more generally, 54 percent of women respond favorably to his backing of gay marriage, compared with 37 percent of men.  There’s an even broader gap by age -- 63 percent of young adults favor the president’s position vs. 34 percent of seniors.

While it’s unclear how the issue may play out in the fall, this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds striking intensity of sentiment in some groups.  Unusually large numbers of conservatives, Republicans and conservative Republicans respond not just unfavorably, but strongly so -- 61, 65 and 71 percent, respectively, peaking at 80 percent of very conservatives.

For their part, most liberals, Democrats and liberal Democrats respond strongly favorably, albeit not always at commensurate levels.  Notably, at 52 percent, strongly positive views of Obama’s position among Democrats are 13 points lower than strongly negative views among Republicans.

There’s an intensity gap between the sexes as well: While women, as noted, are much more apt to express overall favorable views of the president’s announcement, more men respond strongly negatively, 45 percent, than women see it strongly favorably, 35 percent.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio