Election 1998 Poll: Lott's Extreme Views Undermine His Leadership

Religious Right Credibility in Tatters – Anti-Gay Campaign Taints GOP

November 11, 1998 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

(WASHINGTON, DC) – In a poll conducted by American Viewpoint, an Alexandria (VA)-based Republican polling firm, an overwhelming majority of Americans, including Republicans, would not support candidates for public office who share the public views of Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) on gays. The survey came at a time of upheaval in the Congressional GOP leadership following the disastrous 1998 elections.

The survey underscores the damage done to the GOP by its close association to religious right organizations and leaders like Gary Bauer and James Dobson, who financed a multi-million dollar advertisement campaign during the election season which linked gays to disease and praised Lott's widely-reported comparison of gays to alcoholics and kleptomaniacs in June. The ads featured football player Reggie White, who has also likened homosexuality to a disease, and individuals who claimed to have been "cured" of homosexuality.

"This poll not only shows the damage wrought by Gary Bauer's ad campaign on the Republican Party," said Richard Tafel, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans. "It suggests that we shouldn't have a Senate Majority Leader who Republicans have to run against out on the campaign trail and maybe he should step aside. And if Trent Lott does stay on as Majority Leader, and he doesn't want to be the last Republican majority leader for a while, he'd better reach out to the one million gay Americans who voted for Republican candidates who managed to distance themselves from him in this election. Anyone who thought bashing gays was a smart way to rally the so-called base of the party severely miscalculated, as even conservatives and church-going Christians reject the message."

Across a wide range of demographic groups, the taint of Lott's views clearly inflicts damage on other candidates for public office. An overwhelming majority of Republicans, working women, young voters, and even those who attend church with a high frequency said they were less likely to vote for candidates that agree with Lott and the ad campaign his comments inspired.

"The party leadership is at a turning point, and there is nothing ambiguous about these polling numbers," Tafel said. "The Republican leadership embraces anti-gay politics at its own peril from this point on, as it clearly will doom candidates down ballot in the next election. Gary Bauer's ad campaign clearly bombed from a political standpoint, and this idea of "curing" gays is a disastrous political message, even among church-going Christians."

The national survey of 1,000 Americans who voted on November 3, conducted for Log Cabin Republicans, found the following results:

Question: Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott recently said that homosexuals have a disease, much like alcoholics and kleptomaniacs.

Are you more likely or less likely to support a candidate for public office who agrees with these remarks?
All 1998 Voters1998 GOP Voters
69% Less Likely60% Less Likely
20% More Likely27% More Likely
GOP WomenGOP Aged 18-29
64% Less Likely68% Less Likely
23% More Likely18% More Likely
High freq. Church-Goers"Devout Right"
60% Less Likely51% Less Likely
26% More Likely36% More Likely

Working Women
78% Less Likely
14% More Likely
"Somewhat Conservative"
62% Less Likely
25% More Likely
"Very Conservative"
49% Less Likely
36% More Likely

East74% Less/15% More
South66% Less/22% More
Midwest68% Less/20% More
West67% Less/21% More