Nine out of ten lesbian, gay, and bisexual U.S. citizens will vote in the Democratic primaries – and 63% of them will vote for Hillary Clinton. Only twenty-one percent say that lesbian and gay rights will be the most important issue influencing their vote in 2008.
In the first political survey conducted by a university-based team of scholars – using a nationally representative sample of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) Americans – researchers found that support for Senator Hillary Clinton is much stronger than Senator Barack Obama – who has 22 percent of our support and John Edwards – who has 7 percent.
The Hunter College Poll also finds that during the process of “coming out,” LGB become more liberal and more engaged in the political process than the general population.
“We found a stunning transformation in political views in the LGB community of a magnitude that is virtually unparalleled among social groupings in the U.S. population,” said political science professor Kenneth Sherrill of Hunter College, one of the study’s investigators. The Hunter College Poll was conducted with 768 respondents by Knowledge Networks, Inc. from November 15th through November 26th, 2007.
Other findings include:
- 72 percent of LGB likely voters consider Senator Clinton a supporter of gay rights, with Senator Obama at 52 percent and former Senator Edwards at 41 percent. On the Republican side, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was at 37 percent, followed by Senator John McCain at 13 percent.
“These findings suggest opportunities. Clinton benefits from a high turnout in this very Democratic bloc; her opponents would benefit from making their stated support for gay rights more visible to LGB voters,” said Murray Edelman, a distinguished scholar at Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute and one of the study’s investigators.
- 33 percent of all respondents say they are “very interested” in politics compared to 22 percent of the Knowledge Networks general population sample. And 36 percent said they became more interested in politics during their “coming out” period.
- LGBs were more likely than the general population to have contacted a government official in the past 12 months (23 percent to 16 percent).
“These levels of civic engagement indicate that gay people can have a bigger influence on public policy than suggested by their relatively small share of the population,” said Patrick J. Egan, an assistant professor at New York University and another of the study’s investigators.
- When asked about the proposed federal law making it illegal to discriminate against lesbians, gays, and bisexuals in employment, LGBs (by a margin of 60 to 37 percent) said that those seeking to pass the law were wrong to remove protections for transgendered people in order to get the votes necessary for passage in Congress.
The Hunter College Poll was funded by a grant from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. Sole control over the design of the study’s questionnaire and analysis of the data were maintained by the study’s investigators. The survey was conducted among those who identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual to Knowledge Networks, which recruits its nationally representative sample of respondents by telephone and administers surveys to them via the Internet. The survey has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4 percentage points.