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Gay debate not a likely winner in swing states

August 9, 2007 |  3:30 am

Regardless of what actually transpires tonight in Los Angeles when Democratic candidates participate in the first presidential debate sponsored by gays, the mere fact that it is happening is a milestone.

But for those party leaders worried that it also could prove a political millstone in some places, new polling in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania will only add to their concerns.

The poll's key findings, as spelled out by the assistant director in this article at, are that in these important swing states, voters "are more likely to see the endorsement of a gay rights group as a reason to vote against, rather than for, a candidate. That is especially the case among independent voters -- often the key to winning these critical states ... ."

The survey was conducted by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in Connecticut, and the margin of error for its total sample in each state is plus-or-minus 3 percentage points. You can find the poll's charts here.

The results among all voters in Florida and Pennsylvania were almost identical. In both, 28% said backing from gay rights groups would make them less likely to support a candidate. In Florida, 10% said the endorsement would make them more likely to vote for a candidate; in Pennsylvania, the figure was 11% (the rest said it would make no difference).

In Ohio, 34% of voters said the backing of a gay rights group would make them less inclined to support a candidate, while 10% said it would make them more likely.

Some voters who said they would be negatively influenced by a gay group's endorsement would oppose giving a candidate such a nod on other grounds, of course, so this issue would not necessarily be the determining one. And a look at the breakdown among independents shows that the split between the less likely to vote and the more likely is not as dramatic as for the overall sample (that's especially so in Pennsylvania).

Still, the findings counter our previous item on the potential plus of courting gay voters, who reportedly have strong turnout rates.

-- Don Frederick