A new poll commissioned by Logo TV found that the economy ranks as the top issue among LGBT voters going into the presidential election.
Eighteen percent of the 1,190 self-identified LGBT voters whom Harris Interactive polled on behalf of the network between Aug. 10-15 listed the economy as their primary concern. Fourteen percent of respondents indicated unemployment and jobs as their top priority going into November, while health care ranked third with 12 percent. Nine percent of respondents listed “gay rights in general” as their top priority, while only six percent said marriage rights for same-sex couples is the most important issue.
The poll found that the economy, unemployment and jobs and health care are also the top three issues among 1,367 “general population voters.” Eleven percent of these respondents listed the federal budget deficit as the most important issue. Only one percent said gay rights and nuptials for same-sex couples were their top priorities going into November.
The survey further noted that Americans are generally more likely to vote for a candidate who supports same-sex marriage and adoption, openly gay and lesbian servicemembers in the military, laws that ban anti-gay workplace discrimination and efforts to protect LGBT students from bullying. The poll also noted 52 percent of voters support nuptials for gays and lesbians, compared to only 31 percent who said they backed the issue in 2007.
“The findings in this survey demonstrate what many Americans, gay and straight, have been feeling intuitively — we have reached an historic turning point in the lives of lesbian, gay, bi and transgender Americans,” said Lisa Sherman, executive vice president and general manager of Logo TV. “To see numbers indicating such dramatic support among significant segments of the voting public for LGBT people is heartening. America is filled with allies and champions of gay Americans.”
Ken Sherrill, professor emeritus of political science at Hunter College in New York City, stressed the survey captures what he described as a “political transformation of epic proportions.”
“LGBT rights are no longer a wedge issue in American politics. Instead, support for LGBT rights is now a mainstream position and candidates stand to benefit from their support for LGBT rights,” he said. “The data also demonstrate that LGBT voters are active, savvy, and discerning voters who support candidates who support their interests, but that they also are by no means blindly loyal to any politician or party.”
Logo unveiled the survey only days before Republican National Convention delegates will vote on a proposed party platform that supports a federal constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage and opposes the Obama administration’s decision to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act. Members of the Democratic Party’s platform committee earlier this month approved a same-sex marriage plank on which delegates will vote at their upcoming convention in Charlotte.
The poll found that 67 percent of LGBT respondents will vote for President Obama in November, compared to 48 percent of general voters. More than a fifth of LGBT respondents also said they would consider voting for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney if he held the same positions on gay rights as the president. Twenty-six percent of LGBT voters also said they are more likely to vote for Republicans if the GOP held the same positions on gay-specific issues as the Democratic Party.
“It’s part of the overall picture we’ve seen that the wedge has lost its edge and that support for the freedom to marry and gay rights actually gives parties across the spectrum the opportunity to advance with very little cost,” Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson told the Blade as he reacted to the poll.
He further stressed this survey should provide what he described as lessons for both parties.
“The Logo/Harris poll shows that for LGBT voters, the 2012 election is still very much about the restoration of economic prosperity, growth and jobs,” added R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans. “It also shows that support for ENDA [the Employment Non-Discrimination Act] and the federal contractor executive order, Romney and [Wisconsin Congressman Paul] Ryan can turn the conversation about LGBT equality back to the economy. It’s a message that unites Americans, provides real benefits for millions of LGBT people and plays to the strengths of the Romney-Ryan ticket. Romney and Ryan both have records of supporting these protections, and for practicing nondiscrimination in their own leadership roles, so this step is entirely in line with the Romney-Ryan campaign ‘promise of equal opportunity’”