Gay president? Little more than a year ago, Pete Buttigieg’s win in the February 2020 Iowa Caucuses surprised the ‘heck’ out of many mainstream pundits, parties, and media outlets, in spite of the poorly run process in that state. By that point the campaign had done a good job of letting the media get it out of their system, but there was yet another post caucus round of questioning headlines with that surge making it feel possibly even relevant and possible.
Of course, the quick consolidation of primary candidates answered it for this campaign. That said, the overall generalized question remains unanswered and murky since the urgency to beat Donald Trump brought a quicker consolidation behind Biden/Harris.
It was a good question. Still is. Researchers had not asked it for obvious reasons, offering further testament to how surprising the Buttigieg campaign was for existing, let alone capturing the first delegates. So we were thrilled to be in touch with the researchers who presented their findings over the weeked on just this question.
The big news from their work is a high level of confidence saying their results support the idea that “Yes, America is ready for a gay president.”
Presenting their work for the first time over the weekend at a virtual conference hosted by the Midwest Political Science Association, Princeton Professor Andy Reynolds and Loyola Marymount Assistant Professor Gabriele Magni, a former post-doc fellow at Princeton, presented the method and results of their survey of 6,000 voters during the primaries last year over 12 states, eight of them qualified as “battleground”.
By isolating facets of Pete Buttigieg, the candidate, as introduced by his campaign to voters in a survey, they were able to estimate which of them alone or combined would be winners at the polls and which would not. Particularly interesting a few conclusions that contradict Democratic Party ‘conventional wisdom’ about core voters.
“The goal was to run a systematic study to see whether Buttigieg’s sexual orientation was an electoral barrier for voters, as suggested by many party operatives and pundits,” Magni told Towleroad.Today – Curated tweets by tlrd
Not just a gay president:
“Buttigieg was a unique candidate – an openly gay man, but also a highly educated man, a veteran, and a religious person”
In the survey they tested those alone or in combination to see in relation to the others whether Buttigieg did well because of or in spite of his sexual orientation and which of the other facets worked or might make up for anything lost because of it. Magni tweeted some of the details Saturday:.
Magni says, “voters did not penalize Buttigieg for being openly gay. Contrary to doubts raised by many, our study shows that America seems to be ready for a gay president.”
Of the blocking potential of homophobia among Black voters that was a chorus for the second half of his campaign, was all the answer many needed as an answer to the big existential question of President Pete.
Magni told Towleroad that, “a surprising finding for some has been the strong level of support that Buttigieg, in our study, enjoyed among Black voters, even when he was presented as proudly gay.” That of course was all the answer many needed to the existential questions about the campaign for President Pete. Magni went on, “There have been many articles written about the supposed homophobia of Black voters. Our study shows that that was not really based in reality. Black voters are among the most reliable Democratic supporters, and are ready to vote for Democratic candidates even when such candidates are gay”
Magni and Reynolds will next prepare the study for publication and it is not publicly available as yet, other than the accompanying. key diagrams and explanations released on Twitter. Their methodology in designing the survey, they told us is, “built on previous studies (we published a few ourselves before), but our current study is unique because it examines a real-life candidate, while most previous studies considered hypothetical gay candidates. And it is unique because it varies the saliency of the candidate’s identity traits, including his degree of outness.”
Obviously there is a lot more to Pete Buttigieg as a candidate including plenty of other basic questions about whether he is a good candidate or would be a good candidate that we can understand from this work and if he runs again. It is another data point pointing to the work of equality moring generally forwars.
Other out candidates, elected officials, and the for all races the Victory Fund will no doubt, take note, as will many who will see this as yet another episode in why they” can’t believe they lived to see the day…”
Disclosures and Photo Credit: It should not surprise readers to find out that I supported Buttigieg in the last campaign. I donated to two campaigns early on: Mayor Pete’s and Kamala Harris’ and then supported Biden’s. It’s important to put that out there. I also took the two photos with this post when the campaign came through Provincetown. –Michael Goff