PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender remain significantly more likely than non-LGBT Americans to identify as Democrats. More than six in 10 LGBT Americans identify as Democrats or are Democratic-leaning independents, while 21% identify with or lean toward the Republican Party. Non-LGBT Americans are more evenly divided in their politics, tilting just slightly more Democratic than Republican.
The political orientation of LGBT individuals is virtually unchanged since Gallup's June-September 2012 report, when 21% identified as Republicans, and 65% as Democrats.
These results are based on 88,802 Gallup Daily tracking interviews conducted between Jan. 2 and June 30, 2014. In this period, 3.6% of adults who were asked the political questions identified themselves as "lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender." Self-reported LGBT status has been generally stable in Gallup polling since October 2012, when 3.4% of all adults identified as LGBT.
The federal government recently released its own report on the percentage of Americans in 2013 who identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual in its National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), and estimated that total as 2.3%. Various methodological differences between the two surveys may account for the differences in the estimates, including that the NHIS survey was conducted in person, asked about lesbian/gay status and bisexual status separately, and did not ask for identification as transgender. The NHIS study also did not measure political variables.
LGBT Individuals' Approval of Obama 19 Percentage Points Higher Than Non-LGBT
As would be expected from their Democratic skew in party identification, LGBT individuals are significantly more likely than are non-LGBT adults to approve of the overall job President Barack Obama is doing. Obama's job approval is 61% among the LGBT population, compared with 42% among all others.
Obama's overall job approval rating has dropped among both groups since Gallup reported on these measures using June-September 2012 data, but is down slightly more among LGBT individuals. In the 2012 data, 68% of LGBT individuals approved of Obama, seven points higher than now. Among non-LGBT individuals, approval was 45%, three points higher than it is now. The approval gap between LGBT and non-LGBT individuals has shrunk from 23 to 19 points during this period.
Obama has actively promoted LGBT causes, as outlined on the White House website: "The president and his administration are dedicated to eliminating barriers to equality, fighting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and engaging LGBT communities across the country." Underscoring this commitment, Obama recently signed an executive order that gave workplace protection to LGBT employees working for the federal government and federal contractors. Still, support for Obama is not monolithic in the LGBT community, with 33% disapproving of his job performance. By contrast, disapproval among black Americans, one of the groups that most strongly support Obama, was 9% during the same period.
LGBT Population Skews Liberal, but More Than Half Are Conservative or Moderate
LGBT individuals are twice as likely as other Americans to identify themselves as politically liberal, and about half as likely to identify as conservatives. This is a notable departure from the rest of the population because Americans as a whole have been historically much more likely to identify as conservative than as liberal, though the gap has shrunk in recent years.
Still, a not insignificant 20% of LGBT Americans are conservatives and another third are moderates, underscoring the finding that the LGBT population in the U.S., while definitely skewing to the left end of the political spectrum, is by no means without ideological diversity.
LGBT-Political Relationship Holds Across Age Groups
Americans who identify as LGBT are much younger than the overall population. In the January-June 2014 sample, 48% of the LGBT population is between the ages of 18 and 34, compared with 28% of non-LGBT individuals.
Because younger Americans are significantly more likely to identify as Democrats than those who are older, some of the Democratic orientation of the LGBT population could theoretically reflect its relative youth. That does not appear to be the case, however, as the large majority of LGBT adults in every age category are Democratic or lean Democratic, with relatively little variation. In fact, middle-aged LGBT adults are just as Democratic as those aged 18 to 34. This contrasts with the pattern among non-LGBT individuals, whose Democratic leanings decrease at each age level, to the point that the older category leans Republican.
LGBT individuals in the U.S. today constitute a small percentage of the U.S. population and as such will not be a major voting bloc in most state and national elections, although they could be a factor in close races. Taken as a whole, LGBT individuals are not unusually active on the political front. Research conducted before the 2012 presidential election showed that as a group, LGBT individuals were slightly less likely to be registered to vote and slightly less likely to say they were going to vote than non-LGBT individuals. Still, it is clear that any political effect that LGBT voters do have will benefit the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates more than the Republicans.
LGBT activists in recent years have been a significant part of engendering a major shift in American attitudes on one issue of great interest to the LGBT community -- same-sex marriage. The public's attitudes have shifted significantly toward acceptance of legalized same-sex marriage, which is legal in a growing number of states. This suggests that the LGBT population and its supporters can help affect political policy.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Jan. 2-June 30, 2014, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 88,802 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point at the 95% confidence level.
For results based on the total sample of 2,767 national adults who identify as LGBT, the margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, and cellphone mostly). Demographic weighting targets are based on the most recent Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the most recent National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the most recent U.S. census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.