Poll: Majority of Americans are comfortable with gay presidential candidate

A majority of Americans are either enthusiastic about or comfortable with a gay or lesbian person running for president, according to a new poll, a finding that comes as South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegSanders seeks spark from Ocasio-Cortez at Queens rally Biden seeks to fundraise off fact he's running out of money Biden struggles to reverse fall MORE (D), who is openly gay, grows in popularity as a potential candidate.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, which was first published in March and has gained new attention with Buttigieg's rise, shows that Americans' attitudes toward a gay presidential candidate have changed drastically over the last decade. 

The survey found that 54 percent of Americans said they would be comfortable with a gay or lesbian person running for president. An additional 14 percent said that they would be "enthusiastic" about a gay or lesbian candidate. 

That represents a huge contrast from a similar poll conducted in 2006, which found that more than 50 percent of Americans either had "reservations" about or were "very uncomfortable" with a gay person running for president. 

A combined 43 percent of American voters in the earlier poll said they were either "comfortable" with or "enthusiastic" about a gay or lesbian person running for president that year. 

The survey from 2019 shows that multiple age groups have shifted their thinking on the question. Seventy-five percent of American voters under 35 now say they would be enthusiastic or comfortable with a gay presidential candidate, according to the poll.

In 2006, just 47 percent of that age group said the same. The shift was just as drastic among voters who are above 65. In 2006, just 31 percent of voters above 65 in the poll were comfortable with or enthusiastic about a gay presidential candidate. 

According to the 2019 poll, 56 percent of voters in that age group are now either enthusiastic about or comfortable with the possibility. 

Buttigieg has emerged as a popular figure in the months since launching his exploratory committee for a 2020 presidential run. The 37-year-old has called for numerous progressive reforms, including abandoning the Electoral College for presidential elections. 

He announced on Monday that he raised more than $7 million in the first quarter of this year.

The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll was conducted between Feb. 24 and Feb. 27 and surveyed 900 adults. It has a margin of error of 3.3 percentage points.