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Legal Pot, Marriage Equality Making Americans More Socially Liberal

A new Gallup poll has found that Americans are generally turning to the left on social issues

legal marijuana and gay marriage

Just over half of Americans now support legal marijuana, and a record 60 percent support same-sex marriage.

Gilles Mingasson/Getty; Astrid Riecken/Washington Post/Getty

According to a new Gallup poll, an increasing number of Americans are describing themselves as socially liberal, thanks in large part to two things, according to The Washington Post: the partial legalization of marijuana and same-sex marriage.

The poll found that Americans are generally turning to the left on social issues, particularly when it comes to legal marijuana (which just over half of Americans now support) and marriage equality (which a record 60 percent of Americans now support). The Post noted that “[t]here are certainly other factors that could be at play, up to and including foreign policy. But the most obvious answers — and ones that makes a lot of sense because they have moved so quickly — are gay marriage and marijuana.”

What’s more, for the first time since Gallup began polling the topic, the number of Americans who describe themselves as socially liberal and socially conservative is even, at 31 percent. That marks the highest percentage of social liberals — as well as the lowest percentage of social conservatives — that Gallup has found yet; in 1999, socially conservative Americans outnumbered socially liberal ones 2-to-1.

Though Americans might increasingly support pot shops and same-sex weddings, the left-leaning shift on social issues has not been accompanied by increased support for liberal economics. A steep 39 percent of those polled described their views on economic policy as conservative, compared to only 19 percent who described their economic views as liberal. So rather than making a clear turn to the left, some Americans appear to be moving more toward libertarianism.

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