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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
August 17, 2007



Most Ohio voters don't care
if gays back candidates

But of those who do care, poll shows most are turned off by gay support

Most Ohioans said it doesn’t make a difference to them if a presidential candidate is supported by gay groups, in a poll released last week.

The poll also showed that most Ohioans don’t care if candidates are supported by labor groups, gun rights groups, business groups, conservative Christian groups, or abortion rights groups.

However, it also shows that more Ohioans want no recognition of marriages or civil unions for same-sex couples, though not by much.

The poll was conducted earlier this month in the presidential swing states of Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania by Quinnipiac University of Hambden, Connecticut. It looked at the rankings of all presidential candidates in each state and examined the effect of interest group endorsements.

One question asked, “if a presidential candidate is supported by gay rights groups, does that make you more likely to vote for that candidate, less likely to vote for that candidate, or doesn’t it make a difference?”

Fifty-four percent of Ohioans in the poll said it makes no difference. This is similar to the responses for the other special interest groups.

Ten percent said they would be more likely to support a candidate supported by gay groups, but 34 percent said they would be less likely.

Among Democrats in Ohio, 60 percent said it makes no difference, and 57% of independents said so.

Among Republicans, 57 percent said gay support would make them less likely to support a candidate.

Conversely, 51 percent of Ohio Republicans said support by conservative Christian groups would make them more likely to support a candidate. That compares to Democrats and independents at 21 and 24 percent, respectively.

The poll was released August 8, the day before the Democratic candidate forum on LGBT issues was televised.

“The poll shows backing from gay rights groups has no effect on most voters,” the researchers conclude, speaking of all three states together.

“But among the 40 percent who say it might have an impact on their decision,” they continue, “support of a gay rights group, depending on the state, turns off from two to almost four times the number of voters as it attracts. On a net basis it makes more independents less likely to vote for such a candidate.”

On balance, the poll suggests that endorsement by labor groups is the biggest plus for all candidates.

The poll also shows Democrat Hillary Clinton to be the leader among her party contenders and tied or just ahead of Republican front-runner Rudy Giuliani in all three states.

In Ohio, Clinton and Giuliani are tied with 43 percent of the vote each. In Florida, Clinton leads him 46 to 44 percent. In Pennsylvania, she leads 45 to 44.

Fifty-five percent of the Ohioans polled answered that homosexual behavior was morally wrong. Thirty percent said it is acceptable, and 15 percent remained undecided.

This makes Ohio the least accepting of gays of the three states. Florida was the most accepting.

Forty-nine percent of Democrats and independents in Ohio answered that homosexual behavior is morally wrong, but 74 percent of Republicans answered that way.

Ohio men were also more likely to answer “morally wrong” than women, 63 to 49 percent. Ohio Republicans were only surpassed by evangelical and “born again” Christians, who denounced homosexual behavior by 80 percent.

Voters in all three states were pretty much opposed to same-sex marriage, when asked separately, and opposed to civil unions when asked separately. But when those responses are put together, a small majority favors some recognition of same-sex couples.

Twenty-three percent of Ohioans polled said yes to marriage, and 29 percent said yes to civil unions.

But 37 percent want no recognition. The rest are undecided.

An equal number of Ohio Democrats approve of marriage as want no recognition: 31 percent each. Twenty-five percent favor civil unions.

Independents polled similarly.

Ohio Republicans overwhelmingly want no recognition, by 54 percent, 30 percent of Republicans are fine with civil unions, and 9 percent want marriage.




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