Opinions about a pair of contentious social issues, gun control and gay marriage, have changed substantially since previous presidential campaigns. On gun control, Americans have become more conservative; on gay marriage, they have become more liberal.Support for abortion rights is also holding steady.
Currently, 49% of Americans say it is more important to protect the rights of Americans to own guns, while 45% say it is more important to control gun ownership. Opinion has been divided since early 2009, shortly after Barack Obama’s election. From 1993 through 2008, majorities had said it was more important to control gun ownership than to protect gun rights.
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted April 4-15, 2012, also finds that the public is divided over gay marriage: 47% favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, while 43% are opposed. In 2008, 39% favored and 51% opposed gay marriage, based on an average of polls conducted that year. In 2004, just 31% supported gay marriage, while nearly twice as many (60%) were opposed.
According to a Libertarian Party blog post, this means that Americans are moving in a more libertarian direction on the issues of gun rights and same-sex marriage. This is good as far as it goes, but since there are plenty of other issues, cries of "We won!" are premature.