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GOP: Gay Old Party? More gays voted Republican than in 2008

By Jonathan Capehart

If you want more data that gay men and lesbians are pretty much just like everyone else -- worried about the economy, freaked out about the direction of the country and perhaps ticked at the slow pace of change with regard to their civil rights -- get a load of this exit poll result.

Gay men, lesbians and bisexuals who self-identified to exit pollsters made up 3 percent of those casting ballots in House races on Tuesday, and 31 percent of them voted Republican. By itself, that number is amazing, especially when you consider that way too many people think being gay and voting Democratic are one in the same. But that percentage is ominous news for a White House viewed with suspicion by many gay men and lesbians, because that's four percentage points higher than the change election of 2008.

Self-identified gays have been slowly sidling up to the GOP for a while now. In the 2008 presidential race, they made up four percent of the vote and gave 27 percent of their votes to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) against then-Sen. Barack Obama. In the 2006 midterm elections, when the House and Senate flipped to Democratic control, gays made up three percent of the electorate with the Republicans snagging 24 percent of their ballots. And in the 2004 presidential elections, President George W. Bush got 23 percent of the gay vote. They comprised four percent of those polled.

Jimmy LaSalvia, Executive Director of the gay conservative group GOProud, is heralding the uptick in votes from gay men, lesbians and bisexuals for Republicans.

"The gay left would have you believe that gay conservatives don't exist. Now we see that almost a third of self-identified gay voters cast ballots for Republican candidates for Congress in this year's midterm," continued LaSalvia. "This should be a wake-up call for the out-of-touch so-called leadership of Gay, Inc. in Washington, D.C., which has become little more than a subsidiary of the Democrat Party."

But Post polling director Jon Cohen urged caution when interpreting the exit polls. "[Be] *careful* of extremely low sample sizes," he wrote to me in an e-mail. "Given the way the exit poll was divided into smaller parts, only 126 voters interviewed nationwide described themselves as gay. Sampling error margin is about + or - at least nine points for this group of voters." That should put a damper on LaSalvia's end-zone dancing. But the overall trend and the message it sends should not be ignored by Democrats.

Update, 4:55 p.m.: A previous version of this post did not make it clear that the gay men, lesbians and bisexuals surveyed by exit pollsters self-identified as such. The text above now reflects this.

By Jonathan Capehart  | November 4, 2010; 1:50 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Next: Most disturbing results of election 2010


Wish people would stop assuming I'm liberal because I'm gay. I'm liberal because I'm liberal. I voted Democratic because I support health care reform and believe stimulus spending works better to help the economy than tax cuts. I want the Bush tax cuts for the rich to expire.

If gay rights was the only issue I cared about, I wouldn't have voted at all.

Posted by: GrrrlRomeo | November 4, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Only 3% of the voters are self-described GLBT?

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | November 4, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

It's called payback to a president who promised the gay community everything and has fought to deliver them nothing but lip service. He needs to get real or they'll vote as a block against him. Obama may not realize how vulnerable he is on the left. Can you say "President Kucinich"?

Posted by: madest | November 4, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Stop calling us "the gays". Furthermore, to gay people everywhere: keep voting for politicians who believe you are less than human, undeserving of equal rights, and unfit to create families, and you just may end up joining one of those "retraining" homosexual camps of internalized self-hatred. Rejoice at who you are, despite your worship of the almighty dollar.

Posted by: sellingpencils | November 4, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

The only hateful remarks I've gotten are from gays because I'm conservative, not from conservatives because I'm gay. I hear the same thing from other gay conservatives, too, so it's not just me.

I saw dozens of self-identifying gay and lesbian people (some were racial minorities) at the few tea party rallies I went to this year.

Posted by: kwijibo | November 4, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

I am so disgusted with Obama now, I wanted to vote Republican - I really, really did. But they suck more. What can I say? I just ended up voting for the candidate I disliked least.

Is the party system really necessary? So far as I can tell, it's only function is to perpetuate itself, and it's members are all tools.

Posted by: seabelly1 | November 4, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Let's see. Obama is appealing both DADT and DOMA making him the only president to only fight 2 gay court decisions at the same time. The Senate couldn't even get all of their party to vote for repeal of DADT and ENDA has never been brought for a vote in 2 years.

One of the plaintiffs in the DADT lawsuit is a group of gay Republicans. Which party looks more like they are supportive of gays?

Posted by: Jeffrmarks | November 4, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

President Obama could have ended Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell unilaterally, by executive order. He might have gained more votes than he lost by such an action. He can still do it. It will help him in 2012.
Why is the Department of Defense pursuing legal action against the decision to end DADT? The Cabinet serves the President. He can tell them to drop the case.
Israel has an effective army. Israel has always drafted openly gay men and women into its armed forces.

Posted by: laoqiao | November 4, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Let me preface my post by stating I'm not gay. However, what I see here by gays voting for republicans is being stupidly selfish, you know you didn't get what you wanted repeal of DADT & DOMA. If the president had signed an executive order, the republicans would have blocked it, now in charge would try to override his order and if that failed accuse him of trying to force your lifestyle on this oh so christian nation. This is why they won the middle of the country. Hopefully in 6 months to a year you will all come to see the folly of your selfish vote(s).

Posted by: jestindam | November 4, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Uh oh Jonathan, you might have to actually learn about the candidates instead of the R and D!! What exactly have you all done for women/minorities/gays in the last 50 years? Nothing. A lot of talk, no action. People see people now, so the lazy arguments of "its hard to be a woman/black/gay" in this worlds are OVER. Funny that you seem to be miffed instead of happy though....maybe talk to Juan Williams about that one.

Posted by: dcjayhawk2 | November 5, 2010 6:12 AM | Report abuse

"The Cabinet serves the President. He can tell them to drop the case."

No, he can't. The President is required to uphold the law. The general lack of comprehension on this point is one of the most terrible legacies of the Bush administration.

I think the idea that gay people can be characterized either as liberals or as issue voters is little more than speculation. In any case, at this point everybody's seen enough to know that repeal of DOMA and DADT isn't on offer from either party.

Posted by: fzdybel | November 5, 2010 6:20 AM | Report abuse

There has been more talk about repealing don't ask don't tell during Obama's presidency then during the entire 8 years of the Bush administration. Gay marriage is at the forefront again even if it hasn't passed yet. Obama has appointed more gay members to his administration than previous presidents and gay couples now receive the same benefits as straight couples if employed by the govt. A lot more progress then 8 years of republican rule.

So you punish Obama for not changing everything in the first 2 years of his presidency. Fine, let's see how much those republican/tea partiers will do for gay rights. Most have already made it pretty clear that they feel being gay is a choice, and a bad choice at that. Let's see what a repub house does for gay rights in the next 2 years.

Posted by: wmwilliams14 | November 5, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

So I guess it makes some kind of sense to vote for the party you absolutely know won't help you. I just don't understand it.

Posted by: guyachs | November 5, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

There is no evidence that the gay vote "moved" from Democrats to Republicans. In addition to the hypothesis that gays "switched" parties in large numbers, consider these possibilities:
A) As homosexuality becomes more acceptable, gay conservatives who've been voting Republicans for a long time are feeling more comfortable self-identifying to a pollster.
B) Gay liberals and moderates who voted in 2008 stayed home, while gay conservatives who did not vote in 2008 came out and voted this time.

Posted by: psychodrew | November 5, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Selfishness and stupidity were hallmarks of this mid-term election. I don't see anything surprising in the fact that 31% of our GLBT community makes selfish/stupid decision on how to cast their vote. You don't abandon a cause because somebody doesn't follow through to your liking. That is just knee jerk emotionalism and is couterproductive in the long run.

Posted by: janouzpoha | November 5, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Approximately 8% of men and 10-15% of females are gay. That's the Science. "Gays" still support Dems by a 2:1 margin. Why? Maybe because Republicans have used disgusting anti-homosexual rhetoric for decades as part of their strategy to inflame the extreme right-wing Christianists. Now that legal protections against sexual preference discrimination are in place, it's not a surprise to see LBGT politics adjust to match the rest of the country.

Posted by: thebobbob | November 5, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

how can anyone be suprised that barack has lost a chunk of the gay vote?
many in the gay rights community choose to ignore what barack actually says and does, choosing instead to 'believe in their hearts' that he doesn't really mean all that anti-marriage stuff or that he has no choice but to fight AGAINST gay rights in the courts. for two years there has been complete democratic control of the government. they could have passed anything they wanted to but they didn't lift a finger, choosing instead to blame republicans who had no power to stop them (and, besides, there are many republicans who are supportive of issues like the repeal of DADT.)
just like everybody else, some gay folks are waking up to the fact that they are being bamboozled for their votes and donations. besides there simply being many gay citizens who believe in limited government and fiscal responsibility, many are also recognizing the need to cultivate the relationship with those on the other side of the aisle if they ever hope to be more than an election time 'wedge-issue'.

Posted by: elpolacko | November 6, 2010 1:12 AM | Report abuse

Gays are more successful and wealthier than the general population, many are professionals and economics should be their main concern. The republicans are much more friendly to their small businesses so why shouldn't they join the GOP aside from the marriage issue which not all gays agree on either I don't see the question here.

Posted by: LadyChurchillUSA | November 6, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

I am a straight, Caucasian, Christian (Episcopalian), suburban, GOP-voting woman; I don't support gay-marriage-by-judicial-fiat but would be absolutely fine with supporting it through a state-by-state legislative process. (I'd prefer civil unions for all, gay or straight, with any church ceremony you please as your own business - getting churches out of the business of acting as the witnesses of a legal contract. I recognize that I'm not likely to get my druthers.) This position is a very common one in the GOP: do NOT ram social change down the throats of voters; make your case, win the argument by upright means rather than by changing the rules, and hey-ho, even those who disagree with the legislation will at least not challenge its legality. The legislative process *usually* guarantees a certain level of public support for a measure; the judicial process is intended as a review of the legislative, not as a law-making process in itself.

This particular social change is on the way, and many intermediate changes making the situation of committed gay couples much more LIKE traditional marriage are already in place. To undertake the final step with caution, not to rush into it, is not fundamentally a denigration of gay people but rather a basic conservative stance: conservatism in a democratic framework (not, that is, in a dictatorship) requires support of what has been demonstrated to be both effective and pro-social, including adopting such changes as survive the test of time. Marriage has been self-defined (yes, SELF-defined, in spite of rare exceptions) as heterosexual, 2-person, and intended-to-be-lifelong in our society for so long that the prospect of suddenly changing any of those characteristics holds out the strong possibility of unintended, anti-social consequences that NONE of us will be happy to see. To reduce an objection to abrupt, extra-legislative change of this building block of society to "homophobia" is to ignore its very real, very serious foundation.

Another thing: repeal of DADT results only in a return to prior policy - NO openly gay people allowed to serve. Is that really what you want? I doubt it. But even if repeal of DADT did what you want it to, is it wise to push through this policy change without recourse to those who will have to live with it - the military people, straight and gay, who will serve together in, sometimes, highly stressful and very un-private conditions? Any real solution MUST involve the military in the decision-making process; operational effectiveness must not be reduced significantly by any potential solution. The military is not a societal test tube nor a social club.

Posted by: jamie_mcardle | November 6, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

As for the voting issue, goodness, lefties, do you REALLY think that everyone who votes Republican is "selfish"? I suggest you examine your postulates; isn't it more likely, since human nature is what it is, that people differ as to where they believe their interests lie? Fiscal conservatives vote (often) for those who support the fiscal policies they believe will bring the most good to the most people. Social conservatives vote (often) for those who uphold the values they believe will most benefit society at large. Social and fiscal liberals, I believe, generally vote for those who put forth the policies that THEY believe are most pro-social. We're all after the same thing - the greatest good for the greatest number. We differ on how we believe we can get there. I personally think history provides a terrific guide as to which ideas accomplish this aim, and I vote accordingly.

Stop demonizing us. "Christianist" and "selfish" indeed.

Posted by: jamie_mcardle | November 6, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

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