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  • The U.S. flag flies next to the the Statue of Freedom, atop the Capitol Building in Washington D.C.

    The U.S. flag flies next to the the Statue of Freedom, atop the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. | Photo: Reuters

Published 12 June 2019

The poll measured the public’s general acceptance of various demographics, rather than gauging support for individual presidential candidates.

In a sign that a presidential hopeful’s sexual orientation has diminished as a concern for voters, Americans are more likely to say they would reject a candidate older than 70 than a candidate who is gay, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll Monday.

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The national opinion poll, conducted with the Williams Institute at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, which triggered the birth of the LGBT rights movement, highlighted a steady trend toward acceptance of gay politicians.

The survey also called attention to one of the challenges facing President Donald Trump, who will be turning 73 next week, as he seeks re-election in 2020. 

Democrats will select their nominee from a field that so far includes 24 candidates and a record number of women and non-white candidates. Among those running are two septuagenarians, former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, as well as Pete Buttigieg, the openly gay mayor of South Bend, Indiana. 

A decade ago “it was controversial just to see a presidential candidate who’s supportive of gay rights,” said Andrew Flores, a government professor at American University in Washington, D.C. “Now there’s a gay candidate who’s actually running for the office. So there has been a vast change in what the country views as acceptable.”

Overall, the poll found that 48 percent of adults in the United States said they were “much” or “somewhat” less likely to support someone for the White House if the person was older than 70, while 34 percent were less likely to vote for someone who is gay. 

Additionally, 12 percent said they were more likely to vote for a gay candidate, compared with 11 percent who said they were more likely to support a candidate over 70. 

The poll measured the public’s general acceptance of various demographics, rather than gauging support for individual presidential candidates.

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