Likely voters in 31 states tend to favor legalizing same-sex marriage, but the south is still widely opposed

The Supreme Court yesterday refused to wade into the issue of same-sex marriage, claiming that the near unanimous rulings of lower courts that bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional means that there is no controversy for the Supreme Court to resolve. The move immediately led to the legalization of gay marriage in five states - Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin - where federal judges had ruled same-sex marriage unconstitutional but had suspended their verdict until it could be heard by the Supreme Court. The move is a major blow to opponents of same-sex marriage, and even the leadership of the Mormon church has called upon followers to be civil in the wake of the ruling, saying that "though we may disagree, we should not be disagreeable."

Results from the New York Times / CBS News / YouGov Battleground Tracker for the 2014 midterms shows that Americans who are likely to vote in the upcoming elections tend to support (48%) rather than oppose (39%) allowing gays and lesbians to marry. This differs hugely state-to-state and regionally, however. Of the five states immediately affected by yesterday's ruling, likely voters in three of them (Indiana, Oklahoma and Utah) tend to oppose same-sex marriage. In the other two, Virginia and Wisconsin, likely voters tend to support same-sex marriage. 

The state most in favor of allowing same-sex marriage is Massachusetts, where 71% back it and only 19% oppose it. Support for same-sex marriage is particularly high in New England, where all of the six states most in favor of same-sex marriage are located. Not a single state in the Northeast is opposed. Pennsylvania (49% to 38%) is the only state in the region where an outright majority of likely voters do not support same-sex marriage.

Opposition to same-sex marriage is highest in Alabama, where 60% of likely voters oppose same-sex marriage and only 28% support it. Tennessee (29% to 58%) and Mississippi (29% to 56%) are also particularly opposed to same-sex marriage. Overall, of the eighteen states where people tend to oppose rather than support same-sex marriage, twelve of them are in the South. Only likely voters in four southern states – Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Florida - tend to support rather than oppose same-sex marriage. 

The states most evenly split by the issue are Kansas (44% to 41% in favor), South Dakota (43% to 43%) and Indiana (43% to 45% against). North Dakota is the state closest to the national average, with 48% of likely North Dakotans backing same-sex marriage and 39% opposing it. 

See more state-by-state results from the Battleground Tracker

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