As Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton battle it out for the Democrat presidential nomination, Super Tuesday is seen as a make-or-break moment for the Sanders campaign. Sanders, who has surged in popularity over the past few months, has to do well in the 11 states holding primary elections today.
According to a new unscientific poll of Scruff users released last week, Clinton is the clear favorite of gay men who use the app. Clinton’s support is more than double Sanders’ and she would win the gay vote in every Super Tuesday state except for Sanders’ home state of Vermont. The poll surveyed nearly 15,000 Scruff users in the United States.
63% of respondents indicated they prefer Clinton over Sanders who garnered 31%. Nine times as many respondents (72%) identify as Democrats as versus the 8% who affiliate with Republicans. Donald Trump was the clear favorite of Republicans with 39% of respondents choosing the former reality show star.
While the limits of the poll are obvious since the hookup app only polled gay men who use their service, it’s still worth a second look. Why would respondents so clearly choose Clinton over Sanders by a larger margin than the general population?
While Clinton has a mixed history on LGBT issues, in recent years she’s become a champion of LGBT rights. Formerly opposed to same-sex marriage, she has now “evolved” on the issue and has always supported LGBT nondiscrimination protections. As Secretary of State, she famously declared that “gay rights are human rights” in a speech to the United Nations and pushed for greater acceptance of LGBT people worldwide.
Sanders has also been a supporter of LGBT rights including voting against the Defense of Marriage Act, so why are voters turning toward Clinton? Out of the states voting today (Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia), only Vermont, Sanders’ home state, shows a majority support for the senator.
While Clinton has become linked to President Obama’s push for LGBT rights, Sanders has remained a relative unknown to the gay community. With a focus on income inequality, Sanders’ record on LGBT issues hasn’t been forefront in his campaign. Clinton, however, has been actively courting the gay vote for years and her publicity for facing down homophobic world leaders has kept her in the queer media. Until the presidential primary, Sanders has barely registered in the LGBT community.
We’ll have to watch the returns tonight to see if Clinton’s lead with poll respondents correlates with a broader swath of voters. So far, early polling by NBC News shows Clinton leading Sanders in three southern states, Georgia, Tennessee, and Texas, but by a more narrow margin than the Scruff poll predicts.
Will the Scruff poll bear fruit? That will be hard to tell in the end – most voter exit polling doesn’t ask about sexual orientation.