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Gallup survey: majority of Americans opposed to lowering drinking age

UNDATED (CNN) -- When it comes to the drinking age, the vast majority of Americans don't want to go back to the future.

Thirty years after 21 became the minimum age to drink alcohol in all 50 states, a new national poll indicates that nearly three-quarters of the public opposes lowering the age to 18.

According to a Gallup survey released Thursday, 74% say they would oppose a bill to lower the drinking age, with one in four saying they'd support such a move. The level of opposition is similar to what Gallup measured in polls conducted in 2001 and 2007.

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan signed into law a measure that withheld some federal highway funds from states that didn't have 21 as their minimum drinking age. One of the major aims of the law was to reduce the number of auto deaths involving young adults under the influence of alcohol. A Gallup poll at the time indicated that 79% of Americans supported raising the drinking age to 21.

While there is widespread opposition in the new poll to lowering the drinking age, there are some interesting divides. The poll suggests a gap when it comes to ideology. Thirty-four percent of liberals support lowering the age, compared to just 18% of conservatives.

And there's an educational divide, with 37% of those with post-graduate degrees, but just 21% with a high school education or less, saying they favor lowering the drinking age.

More predictably, 35% of those who say they drink weekly support a lower age. Just 18% of those who say the don't drink alcohol want to see the age lowered.

The Gallup poll was conducted July 7-10, with 1,013 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus four percentage points.

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