According to a new poll, for the first time ever a majority of young Republicans are in favour of same-sex marriage.

The Pew Research Center poll looked at age, political allegiance and support for same-sex marriage

It found that while support for same-sex marriage among Republican voters under 30 had risen to 61%, older Republicans were far less likely to support the measure.

Just 22% of Republicans over 65s back the measure, meaning there is a gap of 39 percentage points between the youngest and oldest Republicans on the issue.

The party has been increasingly divided on same-sex marriage, which the conservative wing of the party fiercely opposes.

Support in the party as a whole was found to be 38%, far lower than the 69% recorded among Democrats, and also lower than the 54% of all participants who were in favour.

The group most likely to support same-sex marriage were Democrats under 30, polling 77% in favour, and even 62% of Democrats 65 and over supported the measure.

A similar poll last week found that 59% of Americans back same-sex marriage, rising from 38% 10 years ago.

The Washington Post reported that “support for same-sex marriage has changed more rapidly than almost any social issue in the past decade.”