The gay, lesbian and bisexual community made up 5 percent of
the electorate during the 2002 midterm elections, according to a poll
released last month by the 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. In the current political climate, 5 percent of the vote is
often the entire margin of victory," said HRC Communications Director and
Senior Strategist David M. Smith.
In the last four consecutive elections, the gay community has consistently
represented 4 to 5 percent of the electorate. Comparatively, according to
the Voter News Service in the 2000 elections, African-American voters
comprised 10 percent of the electorate, Hispanic voters 7 percent, Jewish 4
percent and Asians 2 percent of the overall voting population.
"As a demographic, the gay community is consistently active at the polls.
Both parties would be wise to recognize the significance of the gay vote,"
said Smith. "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 poll measured both the size and voting patterns of the gay community in
congressional races. Gay voters in the 2002 elections voted 71 percent
Democratic, 19 percent Republican, 4.1 percent Libertarian and 2.7 percent
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 Nov. 13-18. A total
of 8,280 likely voters were drawn from a pre-screened pool of 63,000 likely
voters who have registered with Zogby International.
All 63,000 likely voters were invited to a secure website to complete a
post-election 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.
Zogby International recommended this methodology to HRC because of its
desire to determine voting levels and behaviors among voters who are gay or
lesbian. This methodology was deemed to be superior to a phone survey
because respondents are more likely to offer honest answers and
identification through a survey that promises a greater degree of anonymity.
The larger number of participants in the interactive poll also offers a
larger number of gay and lesbian respondents for analytical purposes.
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