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I'm Voting: Social issues bring out divisions between parties, generations

updated 6:31 PM EDT, Thu September 27, 2012
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I'm Voting: Your views on social issues
I'm Voting: Your views on social issues
I'm Voting: Your views on social issues
I'm Voting: Your views on social issues
I'm Voting: Your views on social issues
I'm Voting: Your views on social issues
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • CNN posed questions for readers via a Facebook app
  • Click through the gallery to see responses to questions about social issues
  • New questions will be posted on the app through Election Day

Editor's note: CNN is taking a look at the two major U.S. presidential candidates' takes on key policy areas. This week, we're focusing on social issues. See our full election coverage to find out more about where Republicans and Democrats stand, and voice your views on our Facebook app.

(CNN) -- The economy and global affairs will undoubtedly play key roles in the 2012 election, but many voters may also be watching for candidates' stances on more personal issues.

CNN posed questions about several hot-button topics related to social issues, and Facebook users responded enthusiastically; some even got into feisty commenting debates. Health care, immigration and same-sex marriage were three of the most popular topics.

The readers shared their thoughts via the I'm Voting app, which asks potential voters how the president should handle key issues. This project, in partnership with Facebook, aims to increase voter engagement ahead of the 2012 presidential election.

Click through the gallery for a look at respondents' views, broken down by demographics gleaned from Facebook profiles. Party and age divisions showed more variation than in last week's look at foreign policy views. But when looking at gender groups, as in frame 2, the pie slices stayed remarkably consistent.

1. Health care

Question: Should Americans be required to have health insurance?

Terence Madison: "A heath care system that's for profit is BS. They are not there for you. It's about the board of directors and rather it's making money. To me, that's a dangerous system. If it weren't for the fact that federal law says that they must take you, only the rich would live long full lives. And it's that way now. Just not to the extreme it would be without that law. Health care should not be for money. It should be for the people."

Patrick Frankovich: "Doctors wouldn't go to college if it weren't to earn a good living. Forced insurance is bull. If Obamacare is such a great thing, why are Congress and the president not covered by it?"

2. Immigration

Question: Should states be able to enact tougher immigration laws than the federal government?

Glenn Dickey: "if the federal government won't enforce the existing laws, why not let the states control their own borders? After all, it is costing the states way too much to continue supporting undocumented immigrants and their families."

Maritza Cristina Nunez: "We seem to forget our history and keep making the same mistake over and over again. During World War II, we sent hundreds of Japanese-Americans to concentration camps! Now we are doing the same to the undocumented immigrants, mainly the Latinos. I don't hear as much about the European Illegals. These undocumented aliens are the ones that make it possible for you and me to eat our vegetables. They do the jobs that we American deem beneath us. So please, instead of focusing on illegal immigrants, why don't we focus on repairing our economy? Let's put our priorities in order and remember that the immigrants were the ones that made this country great!"

3. Same-sex marriage

Question: Should same-sex couples be able to marry?

Eric Maisel-Smithey: "Same-sex (couples) should be able to marry and get the same rights as everyone else, regardless of what state you live in, period. It does not matter what goes on in anyone's bedroom but your own."

Norman Copeland: "Sorry, I don't care for the term same-sex marriage. As a Christian, I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. That is the definition of marriage to me. I do believe that those so inclined should have a right to a civil union or partnership, whatever, but that is not a marriage. I have gay friends and family members that I love very much, but I just can't go there. Let them sign a contract or whatever and have the rights to health care and insurance, or to a divorce like the rest of us, LOL. Just leave marriage alone!"

Other questions posed on the app were about gun control, gun laws and abortion. Each of these questions received numerous comments.

It's important to note that -- unlike in scientific polls -- anyone from the online audience could respond. A relatively large percentage of respondents in the Facebook surveys identified themselves as Democrats. The breakdown (as of Wednesday) was 54% Democratic, 21% Republican and 25% independent. Compare those numbers with a 2008 national exit poll showing 39% Democratic, 32% Republican and 29% independent. In 2010, the breakdown was 35% Democratic, 35% Republican and 29% independent.

There are still plenty of questions waiting to be asked, so readers are encouraged to participate. Here's how it works: Users first declare their intention to vote and then answer a series of multiple-choice questions. They then can share their answers or compare responses with other Facebook users.

Be sure to visit the app, where we'll be posting new questions through Election Day.

Will social issues affect the way you vote? Which ones are most important to you? Tell us by posting a comment below.

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