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A Closer Look at How Wilton Manors Voted in the Presidential Election

by Sean McShee
Monday Nov 19, 2012
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Voters in Wilton Manors gave Obama 74.6 percent of their votes. While this may seem impressive, voters in majority-Black Lauderhill gave Obama 91.9 percent of their votes. Rather than concentrating in one area, Latinos live throughout Broward County, making it impossible to examine specific precincts to understand how Latinos voted. Obama received 67.11 percent of all votes in Broward County as a whole.

The New York Times conducted a national exit poll that showed how different groups voted. Obama received 94 percent of African-Americans votes, 71 percent of Latino/Hispanic votes, 73 percent of Asian/Pacific Islanders votes, and 76 percent of LGBT votes. This exit poll also found that 5% of all voters identified as LGBT.

In two precincts on the eastern edge of Wilton Manors, Obama won 65.5 percent of the vote but in the six other precincts of Wilton Manors, Obama won 77.5 percent of the vote, a 12-point difference. Political differences do exist within Wilton Manors but 65.5 percent of the vote would still be considered a landslide. These two precincts consistently voted more "conservatively" in the other races on the ballot than the other six precincts.

Not everyone in Wilton Manors identifies as LGBT and people in the LGBT community live in many other districts, including Lauderhill, but LGBT people have concentrated in Wilton Manors, indicating that the other residents were friendly to LGBT people and issues. But according to the 2010 census Wilton Manors is the second gayest city, at least in term of same-sex couples per household.

As such, we can use the election results in places like Wilton Manors, to examine the influence of the LGBT community in the electoral process.

Senate and House

Generally, Democratic candidates did better in Wilton Manors than they did in Broward County and they did better in Broward County than they did in Florida. Incumbent Democratic Senator Nelson did slightly better than Obama, receiving 76.7 percent of all votes in Wilton Manors, but with fewer people voting in the senatorial race than in the presidential race. In Broward County, Nelson received 69.56 percent of all votes. Lois Frankel easily won the Congressional race with 53.37 percent of the votes in Broward County but in Wilton Manors, she received 74.2 percent of the vote. Total votes cast for the congressional race were about 4 percent less than those votes cast for President.

Amendments

The placement of many long Constitutional Amendments on the ballot no doubt increased the wait time in the lines for the polls. In order to pass, each proposed amendment needed a 60 percent "Yes" vote. All failed in Wilton Manors and Broward County, but three passed in the state overall. The three passing amendments involved property tax breaks to poor seniors, veterans and their "opposite" sex spouses.

Some of the failing amendment intersected key issues in LGBT politics. Over 65 percent of voters in Wilton Manors rejected Amendment 1 (barring implementation of "Obamacare"), Amendment 6 (restricting funding for abortions) and Amendment 8 ("Religious Freedom").

Turnout

People in Wilton Manors voted in somewhat larger numbers than other areas in Broward. The turnout in Broward overall was 66.7 percent, but in Wilton Manors it was 69.2 percent. While the six more "liberal" precincts of Wilton Manors had a turnout of 68.9 percent, the two more "conservative" precincts on its eastern edge had a voter turnout of 70.5 percent. Even with record turnout among African-Americans, voter turnout in Lauderhill was 65.5 percent, just below the county average. In contrast, the Romney-majority precincts in Davie had an average voter turnout of 73.1 percent, six points above the county’s turnout.

As the above shows, GOP voters tend to have more consistent and higher turnout than Democratic voters. According to the Florida Division of Elections, voter turnout drops at least 20 percent between high turnout Presidential election years (2004, 2008, and 2012) and low turnout Congressional election years (2002, 2006, and 2010). Most importantly, Florida always elects Governor in these low turnout Congressional election years. The Obama campaign developed its extraordinary Get Out the Vote organization to counteract this voting pattern.

Early-voting

In both Wilton Manors and Lauderhill, early-voting provided a much larger percentage of votes cast for Obama than did absentee or election-day voting: This pattern did not hold for Romney voters in these two areas. They showed a preference for election-day voting. People have long acknowledged Black preference for early-voting but LGBT preference for early-voting is not well known. At present we do not know why this preference appears among LGBT voters. It could be that more liberal voters are more likely to adapt new technologies than more conservative voters. Alternatively, the mere proximity of the early-voting location in Wilton Manors City Hall could have increased the popularity of early-voting. This data from both Wilton Manors and Lauderhill supports charges that restricting early-voting would affect Democratic voters more than Republican voters.

This election in Wilton Manors confirmed two long-standing assumptions about LGBT electoral politics: 1) the LGBT population tends to have high voter turnout and 2) the LGBT community tends to give about 75% of its votes to Democrats. Surprisingly this election did show a probable preference among LGBT voters for early-voting.

Copyright outh Florida Gay News. For more articles, visit www.southfloridagaynews.com

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