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Clinton's Support High Among Gays

A primary polling pop-quiz: among what group of reliably Democratic voters does Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's support top 60 percent? The answer: Lesbians, gays and bisexuals. A new poll from Hunter College finds that 63 percent of likely voters in this bloc support Clinton, while 22 percent back Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and 7 percent are for former senator John Edwards (N.C.).

Clinton's lead is cushioned by wide advantages in favorability and perceptions of her support for gay and lesbian rights.

Nearly twice as many gay, lesbian or bisexual (GLB) likely voters say they view the New York senator "very favorably" as say the same of Obama (48 percent to 26 percent).

Almost three-quarters describe Clinton as a "supporter" of lesbian and gay rights (including 22 percent who say she is a strong supporter), while 52 percent say the same of Obama and 41 percent view Edwards that way.
But some of her advantage on this question comes from familiarity. Nearly four in 10 say they don't know enough to rate Edwards or Obama; 24 percent say so of Clinton.

Clinton's margin in the primary contest among GLBs far surpasses her support among all Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (she had 49 percent in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll) and exceeds that in even her best groups. In the Post-ABC poll, Clinton had 57 percent among those seeking "strength and experience," 55 percent among non-college women, 55 percent among married women, 54 percent among self-described feminists and 51 percent among African-American women.

Just 13 percent of GLBs in the Hunter College poll say they plan to vote in the Republican primary or caucus in their state, and few have positive views of the Republican candidates.

None of the leading Republican candidates is viewed very favorably by more than five percent, and fewer than two percent describe any of the leading Republicans as a "strong supporter" of gay and lesbian rights.
Looking towards the general election, should Clinton become the Democratic nominee she could earn broader support among GLBs than John Kerry did in 2004 or her husband -- former president Bill Clinton -- did in either of his campaigns. Nearly nine in 10 say they would vote for her over Giuliani if the election were being held today.

Kerry got 78 percent among this group, Clinton earned 72 percent in 1992 and 66 percent in 1996.
The Hunter College poll was conducted Nov. 15-26 by Knowledge Networks, among 768 lesbians, gays and bisexuals, including 501 likely Democratic primary voters. The poll was funded by a grant from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

--Jennifer Agiesta

For more polling coverage, see the polling unit's blog Behind the Numbers.

By Washington Post editors  |  November 29, 2007; 6:39 PM ET
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