Sharing Love and Ideas on Valentine’s Day

Polls show that Americans as a whole agree more than disagree on controversial issues—and on this day of love, let’s embrace this emerging trend.

With Ellis Island in the background, a group of immigrant rights advocates march on Wednesday, February 13, 2013, in Liberty State Park, Jersey City, New Jersey. (AP/Mel Evans)
With Ellis Island in the background, a group of immigrant rights advocates march on Wednesday, February 13, 2013, in Liberty State Park, Jersey City, New Jersey. (AP/Mel Evans)

This Valentine’s Day—a day that we should all be showing love and compassion for one another—there are many ways that we can be respectful of one another’s beliefs and rights. Though issues such as immigration, reproductive rights, gun-violence protection, and marriage equality are controversial, many more Americans now agree than disagree on such topics.

Upon the review of several polls, it’s clear that there are plenty of things about which a majority of Americans feel good. Below is a diverse list of a number of the latest public opinion polls covering issues from immigration to gun-violence prevention—issues that, as it turns out, foster far more agreement than debate, despite the largely partisan rhetoric emanating lately from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.


1. Gallup: Americans widely support immigration reform proposals

Gallup published a poll on February 5 showing strong support for many immigration reform proposals. A vast majority of respondents—72 percent—were in favor of a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants if they meet certain requirements, while 71 percent wanted to increase the number of visas available to immigrants who have advanced skills in science and technology. Breaking down the responses by party affiliation, a majority of Republicans, Democrats, and independents would like to see these reforms.

2. America’s Voice: More than 6 in 10 Americans see immigration as a “good thing”

A poll released by America’s Voice on January 18 found strong support not only for immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship but also for immigration itself. More than 6 in 10 Americans believe that immigration is a good thing for America, including 63 percent of whites, 70 percent of blacks, and 69 percent of Latinos. Additionally, more than 73 percent of respondents were in favor of a pathway to citizenship, compared to only 22 percent who favored deportation.

3. CNN/ORC International: A majority of Americans think the government should prioritize integrating immigrants rather than deporting them

CNN released a poll on January 22 showing that a majority of Americans—53 percent—think the main focus of the federal government should not be deportation—rather, it should be to develop a plan that would allow undocumented immigrants to become legal residents. This is a switch from 2011, when 55 percent of Americans said that the government should prioritize deportation and stopping undocumented immigrants from entering the country. Americans now not only see immigration as a good thing, but they also think that the government should devote more resources to providing a pathway to citizenship for our immigrant population.

Reproductive rights

4. Pew Research Center: A majority of men, women, blacks, and whites support Roe v. Wade

A report published by the Pew Forum on Religious & Public Life on January 16 found broad support for upholding the Supreme Court’s decision in its landmark case, Roe v. Wade, which recognized a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion. A full 63 percent of men—along with 64 percent of women, 66 percent of whites, and 67 percent of blacks—said the decision should not be overturned.

5. NBC News/Wall Street Journal: A majority of Americans feel “strongly” that Roe v. Wade not be overturned

NBC News and The Wall Street Journal released a poll on January 22 revealing that 70 percent of Americans do not think that Roe v. Wade should be overturned. Of all those asked, 57 percent said that they “felt strongly” about upholding the 1973 Supreme Court decision.

Gun-violence prevention

6. Pew Research Center: A majority of Americans agree that certain regulations are needed to prevent gun violence

A Pew Research Center poll released on December 20, 2012, found that 65 percent of Americans—including majorities of both blacks and whites—believe that allowing citizens to own assault weapons makes the country more dangerous. A majority of Americans are also in favor of banning bullets designed to explode or penetrate bulletproof vests (56 percent) and banning high-capacity ammunition clips (53 percent). The results of the poll indicate that there is widespread approval for regulations that would prevent gun violence.

7. Survey USA: Parents with children at home agree that easy access to guns contributes to violence

Common Sense Media and the Center for American Progress commissioned Survey USA to conduct a nationwide poll of parents with children under the age of 18. The poll, released on January 7, asked parents what they believe causes violence in society. While three-fourths of parents said that shielding children from violence is difficult, the same share also agreed that easy access to guns contributes to violence in the United States. A majority of all ethnic and racial groups agreed that easy access to guns promoted gun violence in their communities.

8. Washington Post/ABC News Poll: A majority of Americans are in favor of President Obama’s proposal to prevent gun violence

The results of a poll conducted by The Washington Post and ABC News revealed that 53 percent of all adults have a “favorable impression” of President Obama’s proposed gun-violence prevention measures. The poll, released on February 8, also found that 50 percent of registered voters, 56 percent of college graduates, and 51 percent of Independent voters were in favor of the president’s proposal. There was also strong support among communities of color: 83 percent of blacks and 68 percent of Latinos said they agreed with President Obama’s plan.

Marriage equality

9. CBS News and Pew Research Center/NBC/WSJ: A strong majority of young Americans and a growing number of people of color support marriage equality

A CBS News poll published on November 30 found that among all those Americans ages 18 to 29, 72 percent say that same-sex marriage should be legal and that same-sex couples should be afforded the same rights as traditional married couples. Marriage equality also finds growing support among communities of color: Support for marriage equality has risen 13 points—from 26 percent to 39 percent—among blacks since 1996. Among Latinos, support for marriage equality has risen from 45 percent to 55 percent just since 2009.

10. USA Today/Gallup: Most Americans support legalizing marriage for same-sex couples

USA Today and Gallup jointly released a poll on December 5showing that in addition to strong support for marriage equality among young people, a majority of Americans—53 percent—believes that same-sex marriage should be legal and that same-sex couples should be afforded the same rights as traditional married couples. This is a significant increase from eight years ago, when support for marriage equality stood at 42 percent, and from 1996, when it stood at 27 percent.

Any healthy democracy is home to a wide variety of ideas and opinions, but the polls discussed above show that even in this year’s most heated debates, broad agreement can still be found. On a day we typically spend sharing our love and compassion with others, here’s to also sharing attitudes that are moving us toward a stronger and better America.

Morriah Kaplan is an intern with Progress 2050 at the Center for American Progress.

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