Now that Barack Obama has all but cinched the Democratic nomination, I am going to offer a prediction which will likely upset some of the Illinois Senator’s most enthusiastic gay supporters in the netroots. Obama will receive the lowest share of the gay vote of any Democratic presidential nominee since pollsters identified gays as a voting bloc.
I expect McCain to hold the gay votes George W. Bush drew in 2004 and pick up about 10-20% of John Kerry’s vote. That would mean the GOP nominee will take somewhere between 30 and 38% of the measured gay vote. His actual gay vote (as was Bush’s) will, in my view, be higher.
Given how much grief we gay Republicans take from our peers for our politics, many of our fellows prefer not to discuss politics. When approached by exit pollsters, they would be less likely to take the time to answer their surveys than would be gay Democrats. That’s why, I believe, George W. Bush may have gotten as much as 30% of the gay vote in 2004 and why McCain could get as much as 40%.
Yet, it seems this year there is less stigma attached to a vote for John McCain. I say this noting the number of gay Democrats (and Democrat-leaners) who have publicly said they would for McCain. It’s not just that they’ve told me. Other friends, some Democrats, have reported that a a good number of their fellows have said they prefer McCain to Obama.
No gay outreach is necessary. These people are aware of John McCain’s opposition to the Federal Marriage Amendment and have seen enough of Barack Obama not to trust him.
The real question is whether McCain’s increased share of the gay vote will make a difference. It could help secure his margin in Florida and make him more competitive in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. A lot depends on how other demographic groups break. If Obama continues to do poorly among Catholics, the gay vote could tip the balance in these states–and possibly others as well.