But to win a general election, a candidate first has to win a primary, and Illinois primary voters tend to be older and more conservative, while surveys have shown supporters of same-sex marriage tend to be younger, more liberal and less religious in their beliefs.
“The support for marriage equality among (people age) 35 and under, even 50 and under, is at tremendously high levels and these are the people that are going to keep voting from election to election,” said Bernard Cherkasov, the chief executive officer of Equality Illinois, a major advocacy group in support of same-sex marriage.
Last year, when Illinois Republicans helped select former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as the GOP’s presidential nominee, fully 63 percent of the state’s Republican primary voters were age 50 and older with a like percentage describing themselves as conservatives. More than half, 56 percent, said they considered it at least somewhat important that a candidate shared their religious beliefs.