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Gays favor Obama, Clinton for campaign donations
Gays favor Obama, Clinton for campaign donations
Gays favor Obama, Clinton for campaign donations Edwards rounds out top three on West Coast

by Lisa Keen - SGN Contributing Writer

Gays along the West Coast are the most conflicted over who to support in the 2008 presidential election - 40 percent appear to be giving their money to Hillary Clinton and 41 percent to Barack Obama, with 19 percent favoring John Edwards.

That's what data from the first two quarterly fundraising reports suggest. The Federal Elections Commission made the July quarterly report available online last week (July 15). That data, added to the April quarterly, provides an indirect measure of support inside zip codes areas with well-known, heavily Gay neighborhoods, such as 90069 in West Hollywood and 02657 in Provincetown.

Looking at contributions to the top three polling Democratic candidates for president, the data from the first two quarterly reports of the 2008 campaign season show that, nationally, Clinton is leading in heavily Gay areas with 48 percent of the contributions, Obama in second with 39 percent, and Edwards trailing with 13 percent. Looking at all six candidates -top three Democrats and top three Republican-- she's leading with 37 percent of the contributions.

Clinton's portion is down slightly -from 51 percent in April to 48 percent now. Edwards' number is up slightly, from 10 percent in April to 13 percent now. Obama's percentage (39) has not change.

Edwards supporter and long-time Democratic Gay activist David Mixner attributes the increase in Edwards' portion to the campaign's outreach to the LGBT community, saying it "has been incredible."

"Elizabeth Edwards is becoming one of our great supporters and that is exciting to see it unfold," said Mixner.

Both Edwards and Clinton have made highly visible and concerted efforts to court the Gay vote.

Given how poorly the Republican candidates' positions on Gay-related issues compare to those of the Democratic candidates, there is little surprise in learning that the top three polling Republican announced candidates took in only 24 percent of the contributions nationally in the Gay zip codes, while taking in 41 percent of money contributed in all zip codes nationally. By comparison, the Democrats took 76 percent of the contributions in Gay zip code areas, but only 59 percent in all zip codes nationally.

Still, there is no evidence that the "Gay dollars" are weighing especially heavy in any candidate's coffers or that Gay contributors have maxed out. Clinton has raised a total of $52 million from individuals, thus far; the $2.2 million she's raised in the 33 Gayest zip code areas amounts to about four percent. Obama has raised $58 million; so the $1.7 million from the Gayest zip codes amounts to about three percent of his total. Contributions from the Gayest zip codes amounted to about three percent of Edwards' overall $22 million raised.

In Gay zip code areas, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani raised the most ($759,926) among the top three polling Republicans, and he even raised more than Democrat John Edwards ($604,255).

But Giuliani's percentage of dollars dropped dramatically between the April and July quarterly reports. He took in 61 percent of the contributions to the top three polling Republicans in April, but only 54 percent in July. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney dropped, too - from 26 percent in April to 20 percent in July. Only U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona -whose campaign is floundering- gained. He went from 13 percent in April to 27 percent in July.

Unlike with Democrats, who collected money in every zip code area, there were several areas where the top three polling Republicans were shut out. The Northhampton zip code of 01062 has given zero dollars to Giuliani, Romney, or McCain thus far this year. San Diego's University Heights (92116), San Francisco's Mission (94131), and Chicago's Andersonville (60640) have completely snubbed Giuliani and Romney. And Philadelphia's Southwark (19147) has rebuffed Romney and McCain.

In examining the April and July reports together, this reporter looked at 33 zip codes with well-known heavily Gay neighborhoods. The zip codes spanned 20 cities in 12 states and were chosen based on three criteria: the number and percentage of same-sex households counted in the 2000 Census; their rankings in a Gay market study (by Gaymarketexpress.com) of online membership in Gay web sites to determine where Gay people reside; and a survey of editors in major U.S. cities.

CRUNCH WITH CAUTION
For the 2008 presidential campaign, there have not yet been any polls identifying voters by sexual orientation, so data such as these from the FEC reports provide one of the only available gauges of where the Gay vote appears to be going. But the data has important limitations: The FEC reports do not specify what contributions came from Gay donors, only how many dollars were contributed within a specific zip code. Second, while the zip code areas chosen encompass heavily Gay sections of the cities, they also contain areas which are not known to include large numbers of Gays. Not all Gays have enough money to contribute to political candidates. And there are still more than six months to go before the first voting begins in which people who are likely to contribute to candidates will be under increasing pressure to do so.

As with many number-crunching exercises, the results can also vary depending on how the data is examined. But in this case, several different crunches found only slight variations. For instance, when looking at the top ten "Gayest zip codes" in terms of the largest number of same-sex couples, Obama took the greatest percentage of dollars -45 percent- compared to Clinton's 43 percent and Edwards' 12 percent. The zip codes with the largest number of same-sex couples fell into six large cities -- San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Diego, and Washington, D.C. But when looking at the top ten "Gayest zip codes" in terms of concentration -that is, the percentage of same-sex couples in relation to the number of all couple households- Clinton was back on top with 47 percent, compared to Obama with 39 percent and Edwards with 14 percent. The zip code areas with more concentrated Gay populations added some smaller

municipalities to the mix, such as Provincetown, Boston, Houston, and Dallas. Not surprisingly, there are some regional influences to consider, too. The northeast favors Clinton, the U.S. Senator from New York. In the Gayest zip code areas in the northeast, 57 percent of dollars to the top three Democrats went to Clinton. Obama, the U.S. Senator from Illinois, won an overwhelming percentage of the Midwest dollars -76 percent. In Illinois, Andersonville's 60640 has put 93 percent of the money it has contributed to the top three polling Democrats into the Obama coffers; Boystown's 60657 has contributed 77 percent of its campaign dollars to Obama. Edwards did not win a majority of dollars in any region, but his numbers went up from 13 percent nationally to 16 percent in the south and to 19 percent in West Coast zip codes.

Edwards won the majority of dollars in only two of 33 Gay zip code areas nationwide-- both in Dallas -75208's North Oak Cliff and 75219's Oak Lawn.

A quick scan of records for other pro-Gay candidates suggests that very little money is going to campaigns other than the top three polling Democrats. In the three Gayest zip codes by concentration (02657 of Provincetown, 94114 in the Castro of San Francisco, and 90069 of West Hollywood.), New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson received a total of $21,650 and Rep. Dennis Kucinich took in $2,000. By comparison, Clinton took in $231,342, Obama garnered $180,612, and Edwards received $83,351.

So while the debates and forums continue to give voters a chance to scrutinize all candidates, the Gay community nationally seems to have narrowed its choices down to three.

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