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    February 07, 2008

    Those gay exit polls

    Posted by: Chris

    Exitpoll_2 NBC exit polls in California and New York on Super Duper Tuesday showed strong support for Hillary Clinton among gay, lesbian and bisexual voters:

    NBC exit polling found that among the 4 percent of California voters who identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual, 63 percent voted for Clinton, 29 percent for Sen. Barack Obama and 1 percent for John Edwards. In New York, 7 percent of voters self-identified as LGB and 59 percent voted for Clinton, 36 percent for Obama and 3 percent for Edwards.

    An Advocate story called the very fact of the polling "historic," although the networks have done exit polling that includes GLB voters since at least the 2000 presidential election. (The polls showed that GLB vote went for Al Gore over George W. Bush 80-20 that year, and remarkably Bush picked up 25 percent in 2004.)

    The results of the Super Tuesday exit poll are also underwhelming when put into context. For one thing, consider that Clinton won her home state of New York by 57 percent to 40 percent, so backing by gays at a range of 59 percent to 36 percent is not dramatically different. The same holds true to a lesser extent in California, where Hillary won the general vote 52 to 42 percent and the GLB vote 63 to 29 percent.

    But there is another factor at work as well. New York and California are without question two of the states where it is easiest to be gay. Both states have non-discrimination laws and gays are generally accepted in the workplace and culturally. As a result, GLB voters in those states are understandably less focused on gay-specific issues in making their presidential choices.

    That came through in profiles the New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle did recently on the decision making process that gay voters in those two cities were going through. The Chron reported:


    Yet it appears that the issue motivating gay and lesbian Democrats to vote for one candidate or the other isn't gay rights; it's who they believe has the best chance of returning a Democrat to the White House, said Kenneth Sherrill, a Hunter College political scientist and an expert on gay politics.

    "People are most concerned about the crazy war and that the economy is in the tank," Sherrill said. "That's what's driving people this election."

    An informal survey Monday of gay and lesbian voters in San Francisco's Castro neighborhood mirrored that assessment.

    The Times report from late January echoed that assessment:


    For the first time in two decades, gay voters find themselves in an unusual, if happy, predicament. The three leading Democrats have staked out similar positions on issues that resonate with gay men and lesbians. … 

    For the moment, however, gay voters in New York are looking past the issues that have long guided them toward a candidate. They are talking about the conflict in Iraq, universal health care and whether it is more important to have a president with experience or exuberance.

    While gay voters in places like New York and San Francisco may feel the luxury of looking past gay issues in the Democratic primary, those issues hit much closer to home in those states that lack any state or local anti-discrimination laws and where anti-gay bias is a more common occurrence.

    I certainly don't feel that luxury. I know what life is like for gays who live in my native South, and I've seen firsthand how the issue can rip apart families and friendships. And laws like the Defense of Marriage Act have a direct impact on my life, since my partner and I cannot live together in the U.S. because of it. It makes a real difference to me that Barack Obama favors full repeal of DOMA and Hillary only half, and because she has consistently tried to defend the nefarious law signed by her husband in 1996.

    Exit polling of gays is rarely done outside of New York and California because the sample is presumed too small. As a result, we get a skewed look at what GLB voters really think about these candidates.



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    1. Hillary Clinton and the Gay Vote from Steven White on Feb 8, 2008 8:02:31 PM

      Why don't exit polls track the preference of gay voters outside California and New York? Chris Crain is concerned gay urbanites in liberal states are being used as a stand-in for the national "gay vote," which might be a little [Read More]


    1. anon on Feb 8, 2008 2:35:09 AM:

      I'd like to see the income distribution of the LGB voters and would also be interested to see if older, wealthier gay white men tended to vote for Clinton. As a bible-belt ex pat living in CA, I agree that LGBT people in CA & NY have significantly more freedom and protections. But, I think it's a big generalization to say that we don't think there's something at stake in terms of LGBT issues. CA, after all, may face a constitutional amendment battle in Nov. Bye bye to the stereotypes about the Left Coast! I was so ANNOYED every time a LGBT person told me they were voting for Hillary because of some mythical gay following or commitment she supposedly has.

      I for one voted for Obama. In my circle of LGBT friends, most of the lesbians actually went for Obama, most of the gay men went for Clinton and trans folks went for Obama (partly because they think Clinton would more readily sell them out on ENDA). Age may have something to do with this...my gay male friends tend to be older than my lesbian friends.

    1. Brian Miller on Feb 8, 2008 7:08:10 AM:

      If Barack Obama favors a full repeal of DOMA, why hasn't he introduced legislation to do that in the Senate?

      Answer: Because he's telling you what you want to hear. He has no intention of repealing DOMA.

    1. Kary on Feb 8, 2008 10:40:13 AM:

      I know it's not fair to equate Hillary to Bill, but HEY...they're the ones exploiting that. He threw us gay people UNDER the bus....and I'll never forgive him for that...or her, for not screaming "NO!". (Both DOMA and "Don't Ask"). Obama goes into the Black Churches and defends us. That takes guts...and principle. And he was (per Robert DeNiro)"...experienced enough to have voted against the war." The war issue alone (I'm a Vietnam Vet) sinks Hillary's ship.

    1. Another Anon on Feb 8, 2008 6:35:40 PM:

      Obama's skewing toward younger voters in general, so it's not surprising that younger queer voters would support him as well.

      But you're spot on in the assessment that socially or financially secure queers would be more willing to support Clinton. They might even feel that since it "worked" last time it would work this time. But they're wrong. Bill threw us under the bus without a second thought, and I see no reason to think Hillary would be any different.

      My bf and I are stymied by DADT as well as DOMA, and I'm certainly not supporting someone who helped inflict these two burdens on our community. (Hey, if she wants to take credit for her husbands achievements then she can take the blame for his failures, too.)

    1. crazymonk on Feb 8, 2008 7:20:47 PM:

      Brian, there are many positions both Clinton and Obama have staked that they have never introduced in Congress. Why? Because it's not productive to introduce legislation that will fail in committee, be blocked by the obstructionist Republicans, and get vetoed by the President unless it's something that the American public is greatly behind. DOMA, alas, does not fall into that category. It is true that we have no guarantee that Obama will get DOMA repealed, but at least he *wants to do so*. Clinton continues to advocate for only a partial repeal.

    1. Sean Braisted on Feb 8, 2008 9:18:35 PM:

      Perhaps Nashville is more liberal than the rest of the South, but most of the gay men I know are backing Hillary Clinton as well. One of my friends explained it to me that gay men have a certain affection for strong females...could be BS, I don't know.

    1. Oversimply on Feb 9, 2008 12:05:59 AM:

      Two Words.... Donnie McClurkin

    1. Yet another anon on Feb 10, 2008 2:22:31 AM:

      I'm an older wealthier white gay male. I voted for Obama.

    1. Lee P on Feb 10, 2008 5:42:49 AM:

      You say that "laws like the Defense of Marriage Act have a direct impact on my life, since my partner and I cannot live together in the U.S. because of it." How so?

    1. Lee P on Feb 10, 2008 5:43:22 AM:

      You say that "laws like the Defense of Marriage Act have a direct impact on my life, since my partner and I cannot live together in the U.S. because of it." How so?

    1. MEKL on Feb 11, 2008 6:36:30 PM:

      Kary: Do you think if Hillary told Bill "NO!" re: Monica Lewisnki he would listen? You cannot always rely on what one's partner does and mirror that on the other partner. Futher, you canno assume that if Hillary told Bill not do do something, that he would necessarily listen.

      Kary: "Obama goes into the Black Churches and defends us. That takes guts...and principle. " Are you kidding me? Are you aware of the fact that Obama was campaigning with a black, ANTI-GAY, homophobic reverend? Now that is what I call gutsy, especially when you expect to then raise support in the gay community. This certainly isn't any principle in that. UNless you support the prinicple that being gay is a choice and is a sin.

      How can you support or advocate for a candidate that was campaigning with an religious leader who is anti-gay and promote said candidate as being full of guts/principle by standing up for gay rights? When really that is quite hypocritical.
      How could Obama use that as part of his platform to rally supporters and voters, particluarly in the black nd other minority communities where being gay is particularly taboo???

      I'm not sure who is better for the gay community (Obama or Clinton), but I think we better start looking at both sides of the equations....neither of them seem to have glowing resume's for gay rights.

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