(CNN) – A new poll indicates half of voters in Virginia support same-sex marriage, which was banned in the commonwealth by constitutional amendment in 2006.
Results from a Quinnipiac University survey released Thursday showed exactly 50% of registered voters in the commonwealth saying they support allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. Forty-three percent oppose such marriages.
Sharp differences in support persist among different political affiliations – 68% of Democrats support same-sex marriage while 68% of Republicans oppose it. Women, white voters, and those with college degrees are also more likely to say they approve of allowing same sex couples to marry.
The Virginia constitution was amended in 2006 to define marriage as between a man and a woman. At the time 57% of Virginia voters backed the change.
With June's Supreme Court decisions striking down a key portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, as well as a ruling allowing same-sex marriages to go forward in California, challenges are expected against individual state bans preventing gay and lesbian couples from marrying.
In this year's battle for Virginia governor, Democrat Terry McAuliffe has retained his advantage over Republican rival Ken Cuccinelli, according to the poll.
The Quinnipiac survey showed McAuliffe, the former head of the Democratic National Committee, at 43% among Virginia registered voters, while Cuccinelli, the state attorney general, stood at 39%, with 16% undecided. Those results were virtually unchanged from a May Quinnipiac poll, and the margin between the two candidates was within the sampling error.
In a separate poll released Wednesday, the results were reversed – the Roanoke College survey showed Cuccinelli edging out McAuliffe 37%-31%. Another 27% of voters polled were undecided.
The results come amid a mounting controversy involving the commonwealth's current Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, who is embroiled in a controversy over a donor who provided gifts and large financial contributions to McDonnell's family.
Cuccinelli also has connections to the donor which have come under scrutiny, though in the Quinnipiac poll, 70% of voters said the mounting controversy wouldn't affect their vote for governor.
The poll was conducted July 11-15 by telephone from 1,030 registered voters. The sampling error was plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.