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    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.

    Johnmccainellendegeneres 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: 23% 25%
    • 2004: Bush-Cheney: 24% 23%
    • 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%

    ObamahrcforumObama'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:

    • 1996
      Voter News Service
      GLB (5% overall): Clinton (66%). Dole (23%). Perot (7%).

    • 2000
      ABC News:
      GLB: Gore (70%). Bush (23%). Nader (3%). Buchanan (1%).

      Voter News Service
      GLB (4% overall): Gore (70%). Bush (25%). Nader (4%). Buchanan (0%).
    • 2004
      Voter News Service
      GLB (4% overall):  Kerry (77%). Bush (23%).

      Los Angeles Times
      GLB (4% overall): Kerry (81%). Bush (17%).
    • 2008
      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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    Comments

    1. Kris on Nov 7, 2008 11:03:55 AM:

      The only fuzzy math right now that matters is the fact Obama garnered 61% of the vote in California, but failed to convert those votes into "no" votes on Prop 8. He vocally supported the defeat of this awful legislation, but its obvious he didn't care enough to oppose it or it would have been defeated. Obama has already let down LGBT Americans.
      Why did this happen did HRC and other LGBT supporters fail to explain to him clearly how this legislation infringed on our civil rights? Obama has pledged through campaign promises to end ENDA, DATD,pass Hate Crimes, and define and offer benefits and rights to same sex couples. McCain didn't make these promises, so we must hold him accountable. I figure we have two years to push hard to advance LGBT equality, because its very possible that history can repeat itself with the same missed opportunitites again just like the 1994 mid-term elections screwed us when Clinton was president.

      We must hold HRC and other advocates feet to the fire and demand that Obama act on his campaign promises now. His actions on defeating Prop 8 doesn't reflect too good on his resolve to help LGBT Americans.

    1. Tommy on Nov 7, 2008 1:11:29 PM:

      I get the sense that any such small marginal losses maybe explained by the gay Hillary supporters, who could not get over that loss.

    1. DR on Nov 7, 2008 3:09:36 PM:

      In my view, the most telling statistic here is that 24% of GLBT Americans voted for Bush in 2004, AFTER he went on TV and advocated for the consitutional amendment. And perhaps the real % was actually higher in 2004 (those who did not self-disclose).

      It's a fair question of whether Obama could have been a stronger opponent of Prop 8, or whether HRC could get a clue for once. But next to that 24%, it's sort of irrelevant, isn't it? At least 24% of GLBT Americans essentially said, "I don't give a sh*t about marriage equality." Or, "I disagree on the marriage issue, but there are more important issues in this election, such as Homeland Security." I seem to remember a few Republicans saying something to that effect in 2004.

      Maybe the real issue is that gay Americans simply do not cross parties to vote for the most gay-supportive candidate. Maybe they care about gay issues (in a passive way), but it's really not going to change their vote. Isn't that what the whole GayPatriot blog is about? I'm not saying it's bad, necessarily. Maybe it's just unrealistic to expect gay people to hold no party affiliation, and vote - on a transactional basis - for the most sympathetic candidate in any given election. That is not how most people vote.

      Of course, that says that there is no gay movement and we shouldn't expect much better than what we have right now. But I'm trying to be pragmatic, not idealistic.

    1. Lucrece on Nov 7, 2008 8:47:05 PM:

      DR, you hit it. There's no gay movement. There are gay Democrats, and there are gay Republicans. There is no gay "community", either; there are many "gay communities".

      For many gay people, it's Party first, gay issues second.

    1. BobN on Nov 7, 2008 10:02:50 PM:

      I'd sure like to know the location and sample size of these exit polls.

    1. Herb Spencer on Nov 8, 2008 1:35:17 PM:

      First, there's another correction that needs to be made to this article: by no means, even when looking at the electoral votes, was Obama's victory a "landslide." It was a clear and convincing win, but NOT a landslide. So let's not talk about putting lipstick on any pigs while some are gilding the lily, if not
      "stemming the rose."

      Second, despite all the palaver about "our natural allies in communities of color," and other such rot, it's clear that blacks and Latinos overwhelmingly voted for Prop. 8. This makes sense: most blacks who vote are also active churchgoers, and the majority of black churches are clearly opposed to any form of homosexuality. And Latinos are much more traditional, if not exactly conservative, than La Raza and MALDEF will ever admit. So much for "coalitions," HRC, Lambda, and all you others who didn't force Obama to clearly come out against Prop. 8 as he easily could have. True, McCain's no hero for supporting it, but it was all those black, Latino and Democratic votes that put it over - and by a larger margin of the national popular vote than Obama beat McCain. So, if there's any "landslide" that happened here, under the unstable standard used by those who toss the term around with such abandon, it was only in reference to how blatantly blacks, Latinos and their Democratic handlers betrayed the trust that the BGLT "leaders" naively placed in them.

    1. DaveO on Nov 9, 2008 2:47:56 PM:

      Well, regardless of whether McCain gained 4 or 7 points over Bush's share of the gay vote in 2004, what is remarkable is that the gay vote is just about the ONLY demographic where the Republicans improved (and the Democrats lost support) over the past four years. I'm looking at CNN's 2004 and 2008 exit polls, and I don't see any other major category where McCain did better than Bush (and Obama worse than Kerry) except the gays. Maybe there's a 1-point shift towards the republicans amonng people 65+, but that's about it.

    1. Robbie on Nov 10, 2008 1:27:21 AM:

      I wouldn't read very much into the exit polls, to be honest. First, you have to assume every GLBTer is going to self-identify as such (a tall order even in progressive places like California and New York). Then, you have to assume said gays are going to self-identify as Republicans or conservatives. Given the hostility faced by any GLBT outside the Democratic tent, there's even more pressure to either evade or lie.

      Mix in that gays in middle America probably aren't as liberal as their LA/NY/DC brethren . . . well.

      I imagine there are probably more gays voting Republican than people think. The fact that voice is so small in gay movement politics is probably a function of geography and disinterest in getting involved with a community that is hostile, angry, and denigrating towards their ideas and beliefs.

      Look at ENDA. It was strange how the "movement" was hilariously at odds with a super majority of GLBTers polled. "How are the organizations and the actual people so off-pace with each other?"

      This is why. People look at these silly, unscientific polls and think that most gays are ultra-lefties. Nope. The ultra-lefties are simply the loudest, most attention grabbing of the lot.

      Gay politics - and these polls - are the ultimate echo chamber. Kudos to Chris for identifying the massive problems inherent in the polling techniques. But given that, it seems somewhat pointless to draw any policy/popularity conclusions from them.

      At the end of the day, we really have no idea.

    1. Shelby on Dec 26, 2011 10:55:53 AM:

      It's a fair question of whether Obama could have been a stronger opponent of Prop 8, or whether HRC could get a clue for once. But next to that 24%, it's sort of irrelevant, isn't it? At least 24% of GLBT Americans essentially said, "I don't give a sh*t about marriage equality." Or, "I disagree on the marriage issue, but there are more important issues in this election, such as Homeland Security." I seem to remember a few Republicans saying something to that effect in 2004. buy winstrol

    1. Diesy on Dec 26, 2011 10:59:17 AM:

      Obama has pledged through campaign promises to end ENDA, DATD,pass Hate Crimes, and define and offer benefits and rights to same sex couples. McCain didn't make these promises, so we must hold him accountable. I figure we have two years to push hard to advance LGBT equality, because its very possible that history can repeat itself with the same missed opportunitites again just like the 1994 mid-term elections screwed us when Clinton was president. purchase steroids

    1. Bradly56 on Dec 26, 2011 11:00:51 AM:

      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. steroids online

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