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Coming Out and Staying In: The Electoral Consequences of Coming Out as Gay

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Abstract:

Candidates for political office have used homophobic rhetoric in the attempt to make their opponents appear less appealing. Senator Jesse Helms used this approach against opponent Harvey Gantt; Linda Chavez did the same when challenging Barbara Mikulski; and when Ed Koch challenged Mario Cuomo to become governor of New York Koch’s sexuality became an issue. Gantt, Koch, nor Mikulski were out as gay in these campaigns. In fact, Gantt’s heterosexuality wasn’t questioned, Koch professed his heterosexuality, and Mikulski did not address the issue. In these cases, a link to homosexuality was employed as a negative campaigning tool, but none of the candidates involved were openly gay. How then would we expect voters to react to incumbents that came out as gay prior to reelection?
The central research question driving this study is “What are the electoral consequences of gay incumbents publicly disclosing their sexuality to the media?” In order to examine this question, we consider incumbents’ margins of victory prior to and following the coming out process. Because we are interested in how coming out as gay impacts a candidate’s reelection hopes, we exclude candidates from our analysis that initially ran for office openly as gay. Additionally, in order to maximize the number of observations used while comparing campaigns that operate within similar time frames, we utilize campaigns for state legislatures. These data are obtained from the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and yield 51 observations.
Ultimately, we expect that the sooner incumbents come out as gay the better. More specifically, the closer incumbents come out relative to Election Day, the more their margins of victory will decrease relative to earlier elections. Additionally, we expect that region plays a pivotal role with gay incumbents defending their seats in the Southeast and Midwest being impacted more negatively than gay incumbents in other regions.

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gay (135), public (50), state (42), come (41), research (36), elect (36), homosexu (34), candid (33), victori (32), sexual (31), open (30), lesbian (28), fund (28), offici (26), incumb (25), may (25), polit (24), american (23), 1 (23), chang (22), individu (22),
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Name: Southern Political Science Association
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http://www.spsa.net


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p228975_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Bailey, Mandi. and Craig, Mandy. "Coming Out and Staying In: The Electoral Consequences of Coming Out as Gay" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Southern Political Science Association, Hotel Intercontinental, New Orleans, LA, Jan 09, 2008 <Not Available>. 2013-12-15 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p228975_index.html>

APA Citation:

Bailey, M. B. and Craig, M. , 2008-01-09 "Coming Out and Staying In: The Electoral Consequences of Coming Out as Gay" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Southern Political Science Association, Hotel Intercontinental, New Orleans, LA Online <PDF>. 2013-12-15 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p228975_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: Candidates for political office have used homophobic rhetoric in the attempt to make their opponents appear less appealing. Senator Jesse Helms used this approach against opponent Harvey Gantt; Linda Chavez did the same when challenging Barbara Mikulski; and when Ed Koch challenged Mario Cuomo to become governor of New York Koch’s sexuality became an issue. Gantt, Koch, nor Mikulski were out as gay in these campaigns. In fact, Gantt’s heterosexuality wasn’t questioned, Koch professed his heterosexuality, and Mikulski did not address the issue. In these cases, a link to homosexuality was employed as a negative campaigning tool, but none of the candidates involved were openly gay. How then would we expect voters to react to incumbents that came out as gay prior to reelection?
The central research question driving this study is “What are the electoral consequences of gay incumbents publicly disclosing their sexuality to the media?” In order to examine this question, we consider incumbents’ margins of victory prior to and following the coming out process. Because we are interested in how coming out as gay impacts a candidate’s reelection hopes, we exclude candidates from our analysis that initially ran for office openly as gay. Additionally, in order to maximize the number of observations used while comparing campaigns that operate within similar time frames, we utilize campaigns for state legislatures. These data are obtained from the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and yield 51 observations.
Ultimately, we expect that the sooner incumbents come out as gay the better. More specifically, the closer incumbents come out relative to Election Day, the more their margins of victory will decrease relative to earlier elections. Additionally, we expect that region plays a pivotal role with gay incumbents defending their seats in the Southeast and Midwest being impacted more negatively than gay incumbents in other regions.

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Document Type: PDF
Page count: 26
Word count: 6057
Text sample:
Coming Out or Staying In? The Electoral Consequences of Coming Out as Gay Mandi Bates Bailey* Assistant Professor Valdosta State University Valdosta Georgia 31698 mbbailey@valdosta.edu Mandy Rae Craig* Research Analyst Services Employees International Union Las Vegas Nevada 89123 mcraig@seiunv.org *This research is being conducted with the assistance of The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund in Washington DC. As such the authors would like to thank The Victory Fund and their Leadership Network Director Tressa Feher. Abstract Americans are becoming
Michigan Minnesota Missouri Nebraska North Dakota Ohio South Dakota 25 Wisconsin 4. Southwest Southwest is coded 4 and includes the states listed below. Arizona New Mexico Oklahoma Texas 5. West West is coded 5 and includes the states listed below. California Colorado Idaho Montana Nevada Oregon Utah Washington Wyoming 26


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