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    November 29, 2007

    Does Hillary lead among 'real gays'?

    Posted by: Chris

    Hillary_and_gays A new survey released today claims that almost two-thirds of likely GLB voters in the Democratic presidential primary support frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Barack Obama trails with 22 percent and John Edwards with 7 percent. I've posted a much more thorough analysis of the poll on Gay News Watch, but here are a few nuggets:

    • Obama and Edwards register about the same support among gays in the poll as they do with Democrats generally, meaning Hillary's higher GLB numbers represent fewer undecideds among gay voters, who the survey found are much more politically involved.
    • Even as the only candidate backing gay marriage, Dennis Kucinich managed just 5 percent support in the survey.
    • Rudy Giuliani was the top candidate for half of GLB Republicans in the poll, with John McCain managing just 23 percent, Mitt Romney at 11 percent and Fred Thompson at 10 percent. Not surprising results considering Giuliani is the frontrunner generally and his gay rights record and positions are markedly better than the others.

    Even more interesting than the results of the survey, however, are questions about its methodology. The poll was conducted by academics at Hunter College in New York, but for their sample of voters they relied upon a pool provided by Knowledge Networks, the same group that provided the sample for the Human Rights Campaign's controversial survey showing some 70 percent support for Barney Frank's gay-only, compromise ENDA.

    HRC did a poor job of providing information about that earlier survey, and there are some hints about why in this new one -- which was paid for by an HRC grant but conducted by the Hunter College professionals. First and foremost is the demographic information on the Knowledge Networks sample group. According to Hunter College, the GLB respondents were 51 to 49 percent female to male, and 49 percent bisexual.

    I noted in my post about the earlier HRC poll that a 50-50 male-female breakdown about GLB Americans probably grossly overstates the percentage of GLB Americans who are lesbians.  Every indicator I've ever seen, from readership of GLBT publications to participation in GLBT events, has shown 60 to 70 percent (or more) of "us" are men.

    Then there is the 49 percent of the Knowledge Networks pool that is bisexual. Again that is grossly overstated, from information I've seen over the years about the GLBT demographic breakdown.

    Andrew Sullivan sees something sinister in those statistics:

    So the poll is designed to reflect a pre-ordained political "community", rigged for PC purposes to inflate the numbers of bisexuals and lesbians. No big surprise which Democratic candidate won in a landslide: the candidate HRC has been supporting from the start.

    I wouldn't go so far, at least not without additional evidence. But I do see how Knowledge Networks could back themselves into those numbers. Knowledge Networks "recruits its nationally representative sample of respondents by telephone and administers surveys to them via the Internet." So if they simply cull from the general pool of respondents those who self-identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual, then the more fluid nature of female sexuality might result in high numbers of both females and bisexuals.

    The question, then, is whether we consider female bisexuals who may well be heterosexually married and not self-identify as part of our happy "LGBT community" to nonetheless "count" as GLB voters, etc. It's a question that brings to mind the earlier debate about transgender issues, and whether heterosexual cross-dressers are part of the "LGBT community."

    My own take is that the information is useful, whether or not we consider it an indication of how "the gay community" feels about an issue, whether it's ENDA or the presidential race. The most important thing is to clearly identify just who the "we" we're talking about is, so that their opinions can be put into proper perspective.

    If my suspicions about the Knowledge Networks system are correct -- and hopefully the LGBT press will delve further into the issue, both as a political story and just to get a better sense of who it is we are -- then we still don't have a good idea about the presidential proclivities of "the GLBT community," at least in the way that most of us mean when we use that (loaded) term.

    As a side note, the Blade has published an interesting report airing criticism about the methodology of HRC's survey on ENDA, though it focuses more on the wording of the questions than on the demographics. Curiously, when the Hunter College folks asked the Knowledge Networks gay pool about ENDA, they got contrary results. Only 37 percent agreed that, "It was right to remove the protections for transgender people from this bill in order for it to pass this year," while 61 percent said, "It was wrong to remove the protections for transgendered people even if this makes it easier for the bill to pass this year." 

    Of course that wording is just as treacherous, focused on "removing protections" for trans workers rather than ensuring protections for GLB workers, and grossly understating the political reality by saying that removing gender identity makes it "easier."

    The survey also reminded us how woefully uninformed most GLB folks are, since fully 40 percent thought GLB workers were already protected from discrimination under federal law.


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    1. Andoni on Nov 29, 2007 7:44:48 PM:

      The poll of the gay community detailing which candidate they support for president shows that our community is no different than the Religious Right --- WE BELIEVE WHAT WE WANT TO BELIEVE IN SPITE OF THE DEMONSTRABLE FACTS.

      There are objective, factual ways to compare the presidential candidates based on positions…. and Hillary Clinton is not the best candidate on gay issues. It is unfortunate that responders to the poll think she is the most gay friendly candidate.

      There are probably reasons, a combination of them, for our community’s being out of touch with reality, but I’ll let others delineate these. For the moment, I’m in depression over how little informed our community is on the issues and how little attention they must have been paying attention to the statements and positions of the candidates over the past few months.

      If we can be fooled so easily as a community, in the end we deserve what we get if the president turns out to be significantly less than what could have been…or even less than we initially expected.

    1. Geena The Transgirl on Nov 29, 2007 11:42:03 PM:

      How they voted in Midtown Atlanta 2004, Precinct 6A.
      Which is bordered by 10th, 14th, Piedmont and Peachtree.

      148 51.39% JOHN F. KERRY
      102 35.42% JOHN EDWARDS
      17 5.90% AL SHARPTON
      11 3.82% DENNIS J.KUCINICH
      4 1.39% HOWARD DEAN
      2 0.69% JOE LIEBERMAN
      1 0.35% DICK GEPHARDT
      0 0.00% WESLEY K.CLARK

      Hire me for your campaign.
      I am one politically smart tranny.

    1. SFer on Dec 1, 2007 8:26:25 PM:

      Chris --

      My experience (as a lesbian) is that you are correct that gay men dominate the "out" social and political scenes for gay and lesbian people. Honestly, a good part of that, in my experience, is that lesbians come to events, see 80 percent gay men and leave - alienated because they see so few of "their own." Lesbians, in my experience, also tend to "nest" - foregoing the bar and club scene (much to my dismay, as a single lesbian) and not necessarily being as active in political activism (also much to my dismay.) But that does not mean that we do not exist in the same numbers, necessarily. It would be difficult, in any event, to measure the true numbers of gay men and lesbians given so many closet cases. I'm not immediately disagreeing on whether gay men make up a majority - but let's not rush to that conclusion based on the out scene (especially in large cities.)

      That said, I fully agree with you about bisexuals - on what planet are bisexual 49 percent of any "community"? And why should a female married bisexual count in our statistics, in any event. Also, heterosexual crossdressers are not part of ANY community I belong to.

      By the way: I would love to see a blog entry from you on this latest ENDA-related happening: Title VII was yet again construed to include trans people by a federal court, putting the lie to Lambda's disingenuous claims that a sexual orientation-ENDA won't cover gays and lesbians fully (bullshit, particularly if Title VII would "close the gap" and cover any gender perception discrimination) AND showing up the transhysterics who claimed that THEY were left out in the cold. (cf the reality that they currently have federal legal protections under Title VII while we do not.)

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