Americans are sharply divided over whether the Supreme Court should strike down the Defense of Marriage Act when it likely rules on the law later this month, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll.
According to the survey, 41 percent of Americans said the Supreme Court should overturn DOMA and 45 percent said it should uphold the law, which forbids the federal government from recognizing the marriages of gay and lesbian couples, even in states where those marriages are legal.
That split reflects the divide among Americans more generally over whether the federal government should recognize same-sex marriages: 43 percent said it should, and 45 percent said it should not.
A CNN/ORC poll in March found a similar percentage saying the federal government should not recognize same-sex marriages (43 percent) but a larger percentage saying it should recognize them (56 percent).
The earlier poll differed from the HuffPost/YouGov survey both in its methodology (live phone interviews versus online interviews using YouGov's opt-in panel) and in not offering an explicit "don't know" response. Most telephone surveys do not prompt respondents with a "don't know" option, recording that answer only if the respondents volunteer it. By contrast, web surveys can only offer "don't know" or "not sure" as an explicit option.
In the HuffPost/YouGov poll, both questions revealed a major divide between younger and older Americans, which is also found in polls on the broader issue of legalizing same-sex marriage. Americans under age 30 were the most likely to say that the federal government should recognize gay and lesbian marriages, by a 52 percent to 37 percent margin, while those over age 65 said federal government should not do so, by 55 percent to 33 percent. A similar age split came on the question of whether the Supreme Court should overturn DOMA.
Democrats in the poll said the federal government should recognize same-sex marriages, by a 65 percent to 24 percent margin, while independents were evenly divided, 42 percent to 44 percent. But the vast majority of Republicans said the federal government should not recognize those marriages, by 73 percent to 19 percent.
Most Americans have not been following the Supreme Court case closely, the poll found. Only 22 percent said they've heard a lot about the DOMA challenge. Another 48 percent said they've heard a little, and 30 percent said they've heard nothing at all.
The poll was conducted May 30-31 among 1,000 adults using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.