November 07, 2008
Log Cabin's fuzzy math: gay exit polls
Posted by: Chris
UPDATE: Log Cabin has responded to this post, defending its claim that 20% of GLB voters backed Bush-Cheney in 2004 by citing a Los Angeles Times exit poll that shows the GOP ticket receiving only 17% of the gay vote. Huh?
LCR's Scott Tucker explains that the gay GOP group averaged that 17% along with the Voter News Service exit polls that showed 23% gay vote. Talk about your fuzzy logic, especially considering that Log Cabin originally represented that 20% statistic as taken direct from the exit polls, not the result of some "poll of polls" averaging.
Tucker is right that in one section of my original post below, I misquoted VNS as showing 24% support for Bush in '04. That was actually the result from back in 2000 -- although CNN's site actually shows 25% of the GLB vote went for Bush in '00.
The L.A. Times poll from 2004 relied upon by Log Cabin is particularly suspect, since it was based on interviews with 5,154 voters, 65% of whom were from California alone. Considering California's population is only about 12% of the U.S. total, the results of the L.A. Times poll exaggerated the state's GLB vote, which I think we would all agree was likely less supportive of Bush than gays nationwide.
At the very least, the wide range of results from these various exit polls -- along with the inherent variable of which GLB voters would be willing to self-identify to pollsters -- ought to give us all pause in reaching substantive conclusions from these numbers.
CORRECTED ORIGINAL POST: Log Cabin Republicans are doing their best to put lipstick on the pig that was John McCain's landslide defeat on Tuesday. In a post on Blog Cabin, Scott Tucker observed:
Exit polls show John McCain received 27% of the gay vote. That is up from 20% four years ago. That equals 1.3 million votes -- the most any Republican candidate for President has received.
Tucker's math is off considerably, even if his general point about greater gay support for McCain holds true. He is correct that national exit polls showed McCain-Palin receiving support from 27% of those who identified themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual.
But he's off the mark on how Bush-Cheney did four years ago -- in fact, the Voter News Service exit poll showed President Bush received
24% 23% of the GLB vote, despite his support for a federal marriage amendment -- which in turn led to a snub from Log Cabin.
In fact, McCain's GLB support registers higher than the GOP nominee has received in any presidential election since pollsters asked the question:
- 1996: Dole-Kemp: 23%
- 2000: Bush-Cheney:
- 2004: Bush-Cheney:
- 2008: McCain-Palin: 27%
On the Democratic side, meanwhile, the Obama-Biden ticket under-performed previous tallies:
- 1996: Clinton-Gore: 66%
- 2000: Gore-Lieberman: 70%
- 2004: Kerry-Edwards: 77%
- 2008: Obama-Biden: 70%
Obama's support from self-identified GLB voters is especially weak considering that the comparable totals in 1996 and 2000 were in presidential races with significant third-party candidates. Here are the complete totals, which I compiled from articles I edited in my years with the Washington Blade and Southern Voice newspapers:
Voter News Service
GLB (5% overall): Clinton (66%). Dole (23%). Perot (7%).
GLB: Gore (70%). Bush (23%). Nader (3%). Buchanan (1%).
Voter News Service
GLB (4% overall): Gore (70%). Bush (25%). Nader (4%). Buchanan (0%).
Voter News Service
GLB (4% overall): Kerry (77%). Bush (23%).
Los Angeles Times
GLB (4% overall): Kerry (81%). Bush (17%).
Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International
GLB (4% overall): Obama (70%). McCain (27%).
There are plenty of reasons to view this exit poll data about GLB voters with skepticism. Pollsters depend entirely on voters self-identifying as gay, lesbian or bisexual -- a factor that signficantly undercounts the actual GLB totals and how they voted. In addition, Voter News Service followed a practice of only asking the GLB question of voters in places like New York and California, where they knew the percentage saying yes would have statistical significance.
All that said, it's not surprising that gay, lesbian and bisexual voters would be a bit more willing, on the margins, to vote for John McCain this time around, given his opposition to the same federal marriage amendment that was championed by George W. Bush.
There is also a word of warning for President-Elect Obama in these numbers. Bill Clinton received the lowest percentage of GLB support in 1996 -- although still two-thirds -- after he caved to Republicans and conservative Democrats on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the Defense of Marriage Act. A more sophisticated and empowered GLB electorate is likely to be much less forgiving if "thrown under the bus" by President Obama, who starts off with a slightly smaller level of GLB support.
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