The Americans’ perception on sexual orientation — especially as it relates to people holding public office — is changing dramatically.
According to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, nearly 70 percent of Americans are completely fine with a gay presidential candidate. This would be very good news for South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who has emerged as an unlikely contender in the Democratic field, thanks largely to his progressive views and clear communication. Buttigieg is an openly gay man who has been married to his husband, Chasten, since last June, and has become a media darling in a short span of time. If there was any doubt about his sexual orientation causing him major problems, the results of this poll could make him rest easy.
But it was not always like this. Only a few years ago, a gay candidate would have faced stiff opposition from orthodox quarters and a large part of the electorate. Thirteen years ago, in 2006, in another poll, more than half of Americans said they would not be okay with a gay or lesbian person contesting for the presidency. Thirty-four percent of Americans said they would be “very uncomfortable” while another 19 percent said they would have “reservations” about the same. Only 5 percent of Americans had said they would be enthusiastic about a gay candidate.
In the new poll, however, 68 percent of Americans said they would be “comfortable” or enthusiastic about a gay candidate, meaning nearly seven in 10 Americans would welcome Buttigieg taking part in the elections.
Another good news for Buttigieg is that the jump in the number of Americans fine with a gay presidential candidate is not only down to millennial acceptance. Even older Americans are increasingly coming around to the idea that they would see a gay or lesbian presidential candidate in their lifetimes. But the growing tolerance is starker among younger voters, with Americans under 35 being extremely open to the idea.
“The share of those younger than 35 who say they’re enthusiastic or comfortable with a gay candidate increased by 28 percentage points between 2006 and now, jumping from 47 percent to 75 percent,” the report said.
For older people, the jump was also significant, with 25 percent more older Americans saying they are fine with a gay candidate than they did in 2006.
Whether or not the result of the poll has a direct correlation with Pete Buttigieg’s chances of succeeding is difficult to assess at this point of time, but the numbers show that there is little doubt Americans are more open to the idea of a gay president now than at any point in the country’s history.