Howard Dean the First Choice of Gay Pride Attendees, Task Force Poll Shows

August 04, 2003

Only 5% plan to vote for President Bush; 76% will support Democratic challenger; 1,471 surveyed at LA, NYC, DC Prides

Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean is the first choice of a large sample of gay voters, according to a report released today by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF). The report is based on a random survey of 1,471 participants at three gay pride events in Los Angeles, New York City and Washington, DC in June.

Thirty-three percent of those planning to vote in the Democratic Primary said they would support former Vermont Governor Dean. This was nearly three times the percentage backing the next most popular candidate, Senator John Kerry, who had the support of 10% of respondents. Senator Joseph Lieberman was third with 7% support. The rest of the field came in as follows: Congressman Richard Gephardt 6%, former Senator Carol Moseley Braun 5%, Sen. John Edwards 4%; Rev. Al Sharpton 3%, Congressman Dennis Kucinich 2%; and Sen. Bob Graham 1%. Twenty-nine percent of those planning to vote in the Democratic Primary were undecided on a candidate.

Openly gay, lesbian and bisexual voters comprise at least 5% of the vote in national elections, according to Voter News Service data gathered from 1996 to 2000. The gay vote is even more important in Democratic primaries, where it accounts for an estimated 10% of the vote.

Only 5% of respondents said they planned to vote for President George W. Bush in the 2004 election. In fact, a higher percentage plans to vote for a third party candidate (12%) than to re-elect Bush. Three in four (76%) plan to vote for the Democratic nominee. Seven percent are undecided or did not choose a candidate for the general election.

"Clearly, Governor Dean's record of leadership on civil unions in Vermont and his willingness to speak about equal rights for gay people to all audiences is resonating in our community," said Matt Foreman, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force executive director. According to a Task Force Policy Institute report on the positions of the Democratic presidential candidates released in May, Dr. Dean supports equal treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in all policy areas except same-sex marriage. However, he recently encouraged states to recognize gay marriages entered into in Canada. (The provinces of Ontario and British Columbia legalized same-sex marriage this summer.)

The number of respondents saying they would support President Bush (5%) is significantly lower than exit polls during the 2000 race. In the Bush/Gore contest, he received one in four gay votes in 2000, according to Voter News Service exit poll data. It is possible that the President's lackluster and sometimes hostile record on gay issues since his election has driven down gay voter support. While in office, President Bush has opposed federal hate crimes and nondiscrimination legislation, put forward several extremely anti-gay candidates to the federal bench, and aggressively supported the "Faith Based Initiative," which would allow religious institutions to openly discriminate against gay people in federally-funded social service programs. (A summary of President Bush's record on gay issues can be found in the Task Force publications library).

When asked, "Do you plan to vote in the Democratic Primary?" 72% of the Gay Pride survey respondents answered yes, 13% no, and 15% undecided (n=1,441).

Although the survey was not entirely random and was limited to three geographic areas, it is the largest sample of gay and gay-supportive potential voters surveyed during this election cycle. In New York 784 respondents were surveyed, in Washington, DC 397 respondents, and in Los Angeles 290 respondents, for a total of 1,471 respondents. The sample is 65% white non-Hispanic, 13% Latino/Hispanic, 10% African American, 5% Asian American, 1% Native American/American Indian, and 6% other. The average age of the respondents was 35.6 years.

Respondents were also asked what they thought were the three most important issues facing the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community. Partner recognition was the top priority of Gay Pride attendees. Thirty-two percent said the following forms of partner recognition are among the most important issues facing the community: marriage/domestic partnership/civil unions; Social Security survivor and spousal benefits; and immigration rights. The second most important issue was nondiscrimination, prioritized by 26% of respondents. The third most important issue was a tie between HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment and inclusive hate crimes laws, both of which received 9.5% support.

Download the report as a PDF file here.

To review the records of the Democratic candidates and President Bush on GLBT issues and HIV/AIDS, see the two recent reports in the Task Force publications library. (scroll down to reports)


The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.