By The Numbers: Who Is The Democratic Congress Ignoring?
This year, when the Democratic Party controlled Congress can’t get an ENDA or an LGBT inclusive hate crimes bill to the president’s desk, it’s important to consider exactly how many Democratic LGBT voters there are, and how often they vote. Here’s some numbers and percentages taken from a some organizations and publications:
Overall, the GLB vote was 5 percent of the electorate in the 1996 election. In cities of more than half a million inhabitants, 9 percent of voters self-identified as GLB, while in medium-sized cities (50,000 to 500,000 inhabitants) GLB voters comprised 7 percent of the electorate.
GLB voters also accounted for an unprecedented 11 percent of California’s Democratic primary voters–the same size as the African American voting block and larger than the Asian American block in the state’s Democratic primary.
The openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual vote has emerged as a sizable, discrete voting bloc of 4 to 5 percent of the vote in national Congressional and Presidential elections and close to 10 percent in Democratic primaries. According to Voter News Service data, openly gay voters are 9 percent of the vote in large cities and 7 percent of the vote in medium-size cities.
A recently released study found that a phenomenal 92.5 percent of gay men and 91 percent of lesbians voted in the 2004 presidential election, and 82.4 percent of gay men and 78 percent of lesbians voted in the 2006 midterm elections. As the Los Angeles Times noted, that compares with an overall turnout of about 61 percent in 2004 and a 40 percent turnout in 2006. The financial participation of gay Americans in politics is also remarkable. This same study found that 40 percent of gay men and 31 percent of lesbians gave money to a political party within the year-compared with 7 percent of Americans overall. (In the run up to the 2008 election, the lion’s share of donations to candidates is going to Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.)
LGBT voters are an extremely strong voting bloc, a group comprised of people who are far more likely to vote than the general population, says the Gay & Lesbian Consumer Index. The survey shows that 92.5 percent of gay respondents and 90.7 percent of lesbian respondents report that they voted in the 2004 presidential election. Likewise, in the mid-term election in 2006, 83.8 percent of gays report that they voted, as did 78 percent of lesbians.
The percentages greatly outpace those of the straight population. In the 2004 presidential election, 64 percent voted and 40 percent voted in the 2006 mid-term election.
“The general population is made up of lots of groups, and yes, the gay and lesbian population is smaller than the total population,” concedes Jerry McHugh, senior director of research for San Francisco-based Community Marketing Inc., which conducted the survey. “But we calculated that 9.8 million gay and lesbian people voted in 2004, and according to the U.S. census, 125 million people voted, so 7.8 percent [of the voters] were gay and lesbian.”
The numbers of LGBT voters verses the numbers of LGBT specific pieces of federal legislation sent to the president — well, it’s certainly something to contemplate.