The middle makes a significant difference: Fifty-four percent of moderates and 52 percent of independents now favor gay marriage, up from 38 and 44 percent, respectively, in 2006. But the single biggest shift has come among moderate and conservative Democrats: in 2006, just 30 percent in this group said gay marriage should be legal. Today it's 57 percent.
One other very pronounced difference is by age: Sixty-six percent of adults under age 30 support gay marriage. That drops to 48 percent of adults age 30 to 64 – and plummets to just 28 percent among senior citizens.
Here's a thumbnail of current views on more of these issues:
POT - Support for legalizing small amounts of marijuana for personal use is nearly twice as high among young adults (57 percent of those under 30) as seniors (30 percent), with middle-aged Americans split about evenly. Nearly six in 10 liberals like the idea; just 36 percent of conservatives agree. Politically, more independents are in favor (53-44 percent), Democrats divide evenly and Republicans broadly are opposed, 28-69 percent. Support's highest of all among people who express no religious preference, 70 percent; and lowest among evangelical white Protestants, 24 percent.
GREENHOUSE – While majorities across the board support government regulation of greenhouse gases, it peaks among liberals (88 percent) and under 30s (80 percent), vs. 61 percent of conservatives and 64 percent of seniors. Support also ranges from 85 percent of Democrats, 65 percent "strongly," to 64 percent of Republicans, 39 percent strongly. Concern about its cost is broader, and stronger, among those who'd presumably be hit hardest -- lower-income adults.
IMMIGRATION – In another difference by age, 85 percent of senior citizens say the U.S. isn't doing enough to keep illegal immigrants from coming into the country; that eases to a still-substantial 65 percent of under 30s. And support for a path to citizenship for illegals is 31 points higher among under 30s than it is among seniors, 73 percent vs. 42 percent.
Seven in 10 liberals and 68 percent of Democrats support an amnesty program. But so do majorities of Republicans and independents (59 percent in both cases), moderates (63 percent) and conservatives (56 percent) alike.
GUNS – Six in 10 women and seven in 10 African-Americans favor stricter gun laws; that falls to 41 percent of men and 47 percent of whites; women and blacks also are much more apt to think such laws will reduce crime, while men and whites are more likely to see enforcement of existing laws as preferable to passing new ones. As noted, there are vast partisan gaps in views of gun control, as well as ideological ones.
TORTURE – About two-thirds of Democrats (65 percent) and liberals (67 percent) alike support Obama's blanket ban on torture, while only three in 10 Republicans (30 percent) and conservatives (31 percent) agree. There's greater division in the political center: Moderates are in favor of the ban by 56-41 percent; independents less supportive, 45-52 percent. Women oppose torture in all cases, 56-42 percent, while views among men are exactly the reverse, 42-56 percent.
CUBA – On Cuba the biggest gaps again are political and ideological. Support for establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba peaks among liberal Democrats at 84 percent, and falls to half as many conservative Republicans, 42 percent.
METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone April 21-24, 2009, among a random national sample of 1,072 adults, including landline and cell-phone-only respondents and an oversample of African-Americans (weighted to their correct share of the national population). Results for the full sample have a 3-point error margin; click here for a detailed description of sampling error. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa.