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AP-NORC Poll: US Voters Uncertain about Supporting an LGBT Candidate for President

Only about 1 in 10 voters expressed such hesitance in regard to a candidate's gender or race

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FILE - Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg (R), and husband, Chasten Glezman, acknowledge supporters after speaking at a campaign event in West Hollywood, Calif., May 9, 2019. VOA

A sizable number of U.S. voters say they’d have some hesitancy about supporting an LGBT candidate for president, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. In fact it’s an issue for many more than a candidate’s race or gender.

In the poll, 32% of registered voters said they would be less excited about supporting a presidential candidate who was gay, lesbian or bisexual; 42% said that about a transgender candidate. By contrast, only about 1 in 10 voters expressed such hesitance in regard to a candidate’s gender or race.

Yet many LGBT candidates have overcome such attitudes, even winning statewide elections, and political experts predict that the path for future LGBT office-seekers will steadily grow smoother.

One intriguing test case: the presidential campaign of Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who has gained significant support with minimal controversy over the fact that he’s gay.

US, Voters, Poll
A sizable number of U.S. voters say they’d have some hesitancy about supporting an LGBT candidate. Pixabay

“While the polling data shows there is still reluctance to vote for an LGBT candidate among a minority of the electorate, that reluctance has been steadily declining,” said Professor Charles Franklin, a pollster at Marquette University in Milwaukee. “There are more success stories demonstrating that LGBT candidates can win despite this disadvantage.”

He cited two LGBT candidates who won statewide races in swing states last year: Democrats Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, easily re-elected to the U.S. Senate, and Jared Polis of Colorado, the first openly gay man elected governor.

The poll finds that Republican voters are especially likely to show resistance to LGBT candidates. But even among Democrats, 18% said they’d be less excited to vote for a gay, lesbian or bisexual candidate. Older Democrats and those who describe themselves as moderates or conservatives were more likely to have reservations than their younger and more liberal counterparts.

David Flaherty, a Republican pollster in Colorado, said generational demographics are likely to be pivotal in making it easier for LGBT candidates to win, given that voters under 45 are far more open to them.

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“That 32% is not an insurmountable hurdle,” Flaherty said. “A lot of it is the 65 and older voters. As those folks pass on, sexual orientation will be an afterthought in future elections.”

He said sexual orientation never became a major issue during the governor’s campaign in Colorado by Polis, who won by 10 percentage points over his Republican opponent with strong support from young and independent voters.

It’s a trend that has unfolded over many years. In a recent Gallup poll, 76% of Americans expressed a willingness to vote for a gay or lesbian presidential candidate, up from 26% when Gallup first asked the question in 1978.

Other polls show broad backing for LGBT rights. A Pew Research Center poll in March pegged Americans’ support for same-sex marriage at 61%; a new Gallup poll found that 71% support allowing transgender people to serve in the military, a stance at odds with President Donald Trump’s efforts to sharply restrict their military presence.

US, Voters, Poll
In the poll, 32% of registered voters said they would be less excited about supporting a presidential candidate who was gay, lesbian or bisexual. Pixabay

Buttigieg is the most prominent test right now of how Americans view LGBT politicians. He has neither highlighted being gay nor sought to play it down. He’s indicated he’s comfortable showing affection for his husband, Chasten, during their occasional joint appearances.

Appearing recently on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Buttigieg mentioned his overwhelming re-election victory in South Bend in 2015 just months after coming out.

“What that tells you, I think, is that people, if you give them the chance, will evaluate you based on what you aim to do, what the results are, what the policies are,” he said.

That’s a message that the LGBTQ Victory Fund conveys to the LGBT candidates it endorses for various levels of elective office across the U.S.

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“We tell our candidates, no one is going to vote for you because you’re LGBT,” said Annise Parker, a lesbian who served three terms as mayor of Houston and is now the fund’s CEO.

Referring to the AP-NORC poll, she said, “If you only have one data point about a candidate — a data point that puts them in a minority status you don’t share — you might have some hesitations.”

“But we don’t vote for hypothetical gay candidate X — we vote for someone who’s a part of the community, who has a plan for addressing some issues,” she said. “The goal is to represent ourselves as whole people, and give them multiple data points.”

The new poll suggests that it might be a harder climb for transgender candidates than for gays and lesbians.

In liberal Vermont, the country’s first major-party transgender candidate for governor, Democrat Christine Hallquist, won 40% of the votes in November against Republican Gov. Phil Scott, who took 55%.

In 2017, Democrat Danica Roem became the first transgender person to win a state legislative seat, ousting a Republican who served 13 terms in Virginia’s House of Delegates.

“My gender was a non-factor among Democrats,” said Roem, whose campaign emphasized job creation and fixing traffic problems.

The AP-NORC poll of 1,116 adults was conducted June 13-17 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4 percentage points. (VOA)

Next Story

Google Gives Up on US Carriers, will Roll Out its Own RCS Chat System

Plus, you'll get better group chats, with the ability to name groups, add and remove people to and from groups, and see if people haven't seen the latest messages

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With RCS on Android, when you and your friends message each other with new chat features, you can chat over Wi-Fi or mobile data, send and receive high-resolution photos and videos, and see if people have received your latest messages. Pixabay

Tired of dilly-dallying at the end of US telecom carriers, Google has announced to roll out its own Rich Communication Services (RCS) on Android that will replace the traditional SMS text messaging with more useful chat features.

“To make your conversations more seamless, we’ve worked on upgrading traditional SMS text messaging with more useful chat features, powered by RCS (Rich Communication Services),” Google said in a statement on Thursday.

With RCS on Android, when you and your friends message each other with new chat features, you can chat over Wi-Fi or mobile data, send and receive high-resolution photos and videos, and see if people have received your latest messages.

“Plus, you’ll get better group chats, with the ability to name groups, add and remove people to and from groups, and see if people haven’t seen the latest messages,” informed Google.

Google, US, RCS
To make your conversations more seamless, we’ve worked on upgrading traditional SMS text messaging with more useful chat features, powered by RCS (Rich Communication Services). Pixabay

Earlier this year, Google enabled the ability for anyone in the UK, France, and Mexico to get chat features in Messages.

Users of Google’s app will eventually see a notification to “Do more with Messages,” and then they’ll be able to “enable chat features” which is RCS.

Chat features are already available for some in Google Messages, and are being broadly rolled out in the US.

“If you already have Messages, you’ll also be prompted to enable chat features in the coming weeks. If you don’t have Messages, you can download it on the Play Store. We expect this service to be broadly available in the US by the end of year,” said the company.

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Google said it is committed to working with its partners, including carriers and device makers, to provide a consistent and interoperable experience for everyone on Android.

RCS is a communication protocol between mobile telephone carriers and between phone and carrier, aiming at replacing SMS messages with a text-message system that is richer and can transmit in-call multimedia. (IANS)