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Polls On Women In Combat Find Support For Policy Shift

First Posted: 01/27/13 EST Updated: 01/28/13 EST

Americans are more likely to support than oppose allowing women to serve in combat roles, according to two polls released this weekend. Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced Thursday that the Pentagon would lift a longstanding ban on women in combat, opening many new roles to women in the military by 2016.

A HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted Jan. 23-24 found 45 percent of Americans favor allowing women in the military to join combat units, another 21 percent said they neither favor nor oppose doing so and 26 percent say they are opposed to allowing women to serve in combat roles.

A Gallup poll conducted Jan. 24 found even higher support when asking respondents if they would vote for or against a law allowing women to serve in combat. In that poll, 74 percent said they would vote for and 20 percent said they would vote against allowing women in combat roles. The Gallup poll did not provide a neutral option, as the HuffPost/YouGov poll did.

Men and women in both surveys were about equally likely to support the measure. In the HuffPost YouGov poll, 46 percent of men and 45 percent of women said they favored allowing women in combat (19 percent of men and 23 percent of women said "neither favor nor oppose," and 31 percent of men and 23 percent of women said they were opposed). In the Gallup poll, 76 percent of women and 73 percent of men said they would vote in favor of allowing women in combat.

Both surveys found greater support among younger than older Americans. The HuffPost/YouGov poll found that 53 percent of American adults age 29 and younger favor allowing women to serve in combat, while only 35 percent of those age 65 and older do, with other age groups falling in between. Twenty-four percent of those age 18 to 29 and 22 percent of those age 65 and over said they neither favored nor opposed allowing women in combat. Likewise, Gallup found that 84 percent of those under age 50 -- but only 63 percent of those age 50 and over -- would "vote for" the measure.

The latest HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted Jan. 23-34 among 1,000 U.S. adults. The poll used a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.

The Gallup poll was conducted among 513 American adults using live telephone interviews.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling.