By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com November 23 2002 12:00 AM ET
Gay, lesbian, and bisexual voters accounted for 5% of the electorate during the 2002 midterm elections, according to a poll released Thursday by the Washington, D.C.-based gay rights group Human Rights Campaign. HRC contracted with Zogby International to conduct the poll after it learned that the Voter News Service would not be identifying gay and lesbian voters this year. "These numbers clearly demonstrate the importance of the gay community in major elections," said HRC communications director and senior strategist David M. Smith. "In the current political climate, 5% of the vote is often the entire margin of victory."
In the last four consecutive elections, GLBT voters have consistently represented 4%-5% of the electorate. Comparatively, according to the Voter News Service, in the 2000 elections African-American voters composed 10% of the electorate, Hispanic voters 7%, Jewish voters 4%, and Asian voters 2%. "As a demographic, the gay community is consistently active at the polls," Smith said. "Both parties would be wise to recognize the significance of the gay vote. It's also important to remember that many gay and lesbian voters are reluctant to come forward and be counted out of fear of discrimination--so these numbers are probably low."
The Zogby poll measured both the number and voting patterns of gay voters in congressional races. GLBT voters in the 2002 elections voted 71% Democratic, 19% Republican, 4.1% Libertarian, and 2.7% Green. In U.S. Senate and House races, gay voters reported that their top three priorities in picking candidates were the economy, the candidate's political ideology, and taxes. Nearly half of the voters who identified as gay said they voted out of a sense of civic responsibility.
The Zogby International Interactive Poll was conducted November 13-18. A total of 8,280 likely voters was drawn from a prescreened pool of 63,000 likely voters who have registered with Zogby International. All 63,000 likely voters were invited to a secure Web site to complete a postelection questionnaire, which was also administered by telephone in 19 states. Overall interactive results for gays and lesbians were similar to the national average derived by the 19-state poll.