Over the course of 25 years, same-sex marriage went from an unimaginable idea to a law. In a shorter period of time – only about a decade – it went from being one of the flashiest cultural war debates to something politicians and activists barely talk about.
The data behind this development is astounding. At the beginning of the millennium, about two thirds of Americans were against same-sex marriage, and a third supported it. Today those numbers have turned. Seventy percent of Americans now support it, with Republicans showing majority support just last month for the first time in Gallup history.
For those who study public opinion, the evolution of the struggle for same-sex marriage stands out. Why did we see change so relatively quickly? Why were politics and public opinion so malleable in the end? And what does that tell us about today’s culture wars?
In this episode of the FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast, we talk to journalist Sasha Issenberg, her new book “The Engagement: America’s Quarterly Battle for Same-Sex Marriage” addresses some of these questions.