RINGJustinSullivan:Getty

The newest ABC/WaPo poll suggests a serious underlying shift in public opinion on several issues, with stability on some others. On two issues on which the Dish has campaigned for many years - decriminalization of marijuana and legalization of civil marriage for gay couples - some seismic change seems to have occurred. The CBS poll also revealed this. But there is now a tiny national majority in the ABC poll in favor of marriage equality - 49 - 46:

More than half, moreover -- 53 percent -- say gay marriages held legally in another state should be recognized as legal in their states.

The surprise is that the shift has occurred across ideological groups. While conservatives are least apt to favor gay marriage, they've gone from 10 percent support in 2004 to 19 percent in 2006 and 30 percent now -- overall a 20-point, threefold increase, alongside a 13-point gain among liberals and 14 points among moderates. (Politically, support for gay marriage has risen sharply among Democrats and independents alike, while far more slightly among Republicans.)

Call me crazy (and they do) but that 30 percent of self-described conservatives now favor marriage equality is a massive achievement in terms of moving public opinion. But these folks are not conservative Republicans - which is why this issue could suddenly become a real problem for the GOP.

They are conservatives who also see themselves as Democrats and Independents:

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.

Now check out the GOP base:

Seventy-five percent of evangelical white Protestants say gay marriage should be illegal, and 68 percent feel that way strongly. Similarly, 83 percent of conservative Republicans are opposed, 73 percent strongly.

Increasingly, Republican candidates need to take positions in primaries that anathematize them with the next generation. That cannot be good for any political party, and suggests that Rovism has more damage to do to the GOP brand before it is consigned to history.

(Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty.)

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