Elizabeth Warren, shante you stay.
In a first-of-its-kind poll, a new survey from YouGov and Out magazine found that LGBTQ+ voters favor the Massachusetts Senator by a nearly 2-to-1 margin over her Democratic rivals in the 2020 primary race. In an online survey of 816 likely voters in the Democratic primary conducted between November 11 and November 18, 31 percent claimed that Warren is their preferred candidate, followed by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (18 percent), former Vice President Joe Biden (16 percent), and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg (14 percent).
Further down the list, California Senator Kamala Harris came in at six percent, while New Jersey Senator Cory Booker (three percent), entrepreneur Andrew Yang (two percent), Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar (two percent), and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro (two percent) also polled in the single digits. Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and self-help guru Marianne Williamson both polled at one percent.
While the poll surveyed likely voters in the Democratic primaries, this should not be confused for “Democrats.” Two dozen states have some form of open primaries, meaning that individuals are permitted to vote across party lines.
The results are an inverted mirror image of Warren’s placement in general primary polls. Survey averages conducted by RealClearPolitics currently show the progressive candidate in third behind Biden and Sanders, respectively, trailing the frontrunner by over 10 percentage points. At the time of publication, polling shows her behind Buttigieg in the Iowa caucus but narrowly in first in the New Hampshire primary.
According to YouGov, Warren’s popularity among LGBTQ+ voters is “probably reflective of the fact that the LGBTQ+ voters in this survey identify as much more liberal than the Democratic primary electorate writ large.”
“Seventy-seven percent of LGBTQ+ Democratic primary voters identified in our survey as very or somewhat liberal, approximately 20 percentage points higher than the percentage of Democratic primary voters overall who identify as very or somewhat liberal in our surveys,” says Alissa Stollwerk, the vice president of YouGov Blue, in a statement to Out.
As further evidence of Stollwerk’s point, a separate question on the survey asked LGBTQ+ voters whether they favor incremental change in policymaking or bold structural reform. Respondents overwhelmingly chose the latter, 64 percent to 28 percent.
But aside from a liberal lean among the LGBTQ+ populace, another reason for Warren’s strong polling numbers among queer and trans people is that she was among the first candidates this year to release policy proposals specific to LGBTQ+ people. Warren began detailing her agenda for LGBTQ+ equality in May, before unveiling a detailed 12-page plan in October. Although Harris, Buttigieg, Booker, and Castro have all released their own comprehensive platforms, many presidential campaigns have yet to do so — including Yang, Klobuchar, and Biden.
The results themselves show the relationship between Warren and LGBTQ+ voters likely goes deeper than partisanship. She had the highest favorable ratings among candidates by a 10-point margin, with 54 percent viewing her highly favorably. Meanwhile, survey respondents also felt she had the best chance to beat President Donald Trump in a general election: 53 percent felt she could do so, followed by Biden (52 percent), Sanders (46 percent), and Buttigieg (29 percent).
But if the survey is good news for the Warren campaign, the results should be a cause for concern in the Biden camp. His unfavorables among LGBTQ+ voters were disproportionately high: 33 percent of respondents viewed him highly or somewhat unfavorably, a greater percentage than every other candidate except for Gabbard and Williamson. They both netted 38 percent unfavorable ratings.
Unsurprisingly, Gabbard and Williamson were also the candidates LGBTQ+ voters were least likely to support in the 2020 election, with 47 percent of respondents saying they would not consider casting a ballot for them. Biden, with a 34 percent naysayer rate, didn’t fare great in that tally either: Of the 10 candidates who participated in last week’s presidential debate, only Gabbard and Tom Steyer (41 percent) had more LGBTQ+ voters refuse to back them in next year’s race.
However, right-wing news sites shouldn’t be too quick to declare an LGBTQ+ mass exodus from the Democratic party should one of the less liked candidates become the nominee in 2020. Even more than likely LGBTQ+ primary voters like any of the presidential candidates, the survey shows they loathe Trump: Just four percent of respondents approve of the job he’s doing as president, while 93 percent disapprove. Even more damningly, 89 percent believe he should be impeached and removed from office over allegations he bribed Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky to dig up dirt on Biden.
But whether LGBTQ+ voters love one of the Democratic candidates or just really hate Trump, the vast majority say they are energized to vote in next year’s primary race. Fifty-six percent of respondents report they are “more enthusiastic” to participate in the primaries than usual, while just seven percent are “less enthusiastic.”
In addition to surveying LGBTQ+ voters about their 2020 preferences, YouGov and Out also asked queer and transgender people about what issues matter most to them. According to respondents, the top issues for them in the upcoming election are health care (66 percent), climate change (59 percent), income inequality (37 percent), and gun policy (36 percent). Interestingly, just 34 percent of respondents listed LGBTQ+ rights as a top issue for them in 2020.
Among issues specific to queer and trans people, respondents believe the most critical problem facing the LGBTQ+ community today is the epidemic of violence targeting transgender women of color. Seventy-three percent of LGBTQ+ voters say it is a critical concern for them, followed by fighting for fully-inclusive nondiscrimination protections (60 percent), tackling LGBTQ+ youth homelessness (59 percent), ensuring same-sex couples have access to adoption and foster care (58 percent), and banning anti-LGBTQ+ conversion therapy (56 percent).
But given that YouGov claims LGBTQ+ voters have never been surveyed in the presidential primaries before, the international data analytics firm called for further research to provide better insight into a “growing part of the electorate who have much at stake in the 2020 elections.”
“Any survey is a snapshot of a group of people at a given time,” Stollwerk says. “However, as far as we know, this is the first survey of likely Democratic primary voters who identify as LGBTQ+, and it hopefully will help people understand the viewpoints of these Democratic voters, what issues are important to them, and what they want to see in the next Democratic nominee for president.”
You can read the survey in its entirety here.
Note: The survey did not take into account former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, as he formally announced his 2020 campaign Sunday. It also does not include demographic data by race or income, as the sample sizes would be too small to be representative. This story has also been updated to further clarify the definition of what constitutes a “likely voter” in a primary race.