Thursday, November 15, 2012

LGBT voters FTW

Analysis from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law has found that LGBT voters were crucial to President Obama’s popular vote margin, and especially vital in Florida. This reinforces a recent Gallup Report that found that LGBT voters are an important part of the Democratic Party’s coalition.

The tables accompanying this post (click to embiggen) show the effect LGBT voters had nationally and in Florida, according to the Williams Institute analysis. It makes for interesting reading.

A few days later, the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT political group in the US, issued analysis of polling data that reached the same conclusion about the national vote, calling our votes “Critical to 2012 Electoral Successes.” They looked only at the national popular vote, which doesn’t elect presidents, but nevertheless found that nationwide, and by the most conservative estimates, the LGB vote was nearly the same as the margin by which President Obama defeated Mitt Romney; however, the actual LGB vote received by the president is estimated to be far greater than his total margin of victory, according to the HRC.

Other, more general, analysis of this year’s election shows that the Democratic Coalition of 2008 held together in 2012 and, in fact, the only group to vote solidly for the Republicans were older white men who are staunch religious conservatives. So, LGBT voters clearly are important for Democrats, not so much for Republicans.

There’s a more important reality buried in all these numbers: The United States has turned a corner. While Karl Rove could once demonise LGBT people in order to win elections for Republicans, that tactic is now useless (and so is Karl Rove, actually: He spent hundreds of millions of dollars, but not one of his supported candidates won, and none of the candidates he opposed lost).

President Obama is the first US President to declare support for marriage equality, and he trounced the Republican candidate who signed a promise to amend the US Constitution to forever ban it in all 50 states—including those where it is now law. Similarly, the Democratic Party was the first of the two main political parties to endorse marriage equality, and they expanded their majority in the US Senate and would have taken control of the US House of Representatives, had Republicans not gerrymandered districts to make that impossible.

As if the success of Democrats—and the failure of Republicans—wasn’t evidence enough, three states—Maine, Maryland and Washington—affirmed marriage equality at the polls (the first time that’s happened), Minnesota beat back attempts to amend their state constitution to ban it (ditto) and Iowans voted to retain a judge who helped bring marriage equality to their state (ditto again). It doesn’t get any clearer than that: American voters utterly reject the Republicans’ anti-gay positions.

Marriage equality is now a factor in positive voting, according to the HRC: “Marriage equality supporters have more intensity than marriage equality opponents”. They say that “There is no evidence that this issue mobilized base Republican voters”, and add, “Obama voters were twice as likely to say that the marriage issue was important to their vote (42 percent) than Romney voters (23 percent)”.

The reason for that, of course, is demographics: American voters are becoming younger, less white, less religious and more tolerant than in the past, all of which spells doom for the Republican Party if it doesn’t move back toward the centre. They can’t say they haven’t been warned.

No one is suggesting that LGBT voters alone determined this election—victory was achieved by a broad-based, multi-cultural coalition that looks a lot like America—especially when compared to the other side. What these results and analysis DO show, however, is that parties or candidates that oppose marriage equality are facing uphill battles, while those that embrace diversity are most likely to win.

That is truly historic—and welcome.

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