Self-identified LGBTQ voters represented 7 percent of the electorate in the United States election that occurred Nov. 3, according to exit polling from Edison Research, which compiles demographic information for every U.S. election for many of the mainstream television news networks and The New York Times. It is the highest percentage in any election since the LGBTQ vote was first recorded in 1996.
A surprising 28 percent of LGBTQ voters went for President Donald Trump’s re-election, which was cause for celebration for conservative LGBTQ groups. President-elect Joe Biden received 61 percent of the LGBTQ vote and 11 percent went for candidates of other political parties.
LGBTQ voters backed Hillary Clinton over Trump in 2016 with a 78–14 margin.
The national LGBTQ Victory Fund, an organization that provides campaign, fundraising, and communications support to LGBTQ candidates, says that a record 574 queer candidates were on ballots across the country this year.
At press time, more than 220 of these candidates have already claimed victory, with many contests yet to be called.
A record total of 26 openly LGBTQ candidates for U.S. Senate or House were on the ballot, and 11 — nine in the House and two in the Senate — are projected to win their races.
New York elected the first two openly gay Black candidates to serve in Congress. Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones, both Democrats, will begin their terms this January.
All seven LGBTQ incumbents, all Democrats, won re-election, including Rhode Island’s David Cicilline, New Hampshire’s Chris Pappas, Wisconsin’s Mark Pocan, Minnesota’s Angie Craig, California’s Mark Takano, New York’s Sean Patrick Maloney, and Kansas’ Sharice Davids.
Openly lesbian senators Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., were not up for re-election.
At press time, 124 of 240 LGBTQ candidates for state legislative races had won their races, including nearly 40 who were not incumbents.
“LGBTQ candidates made historic inroads in state legislatures across the country, winning in states and chambers where we never have before,” Annise Parker, president of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a statement. “Trans candidates, in particular, had unprecedented victories, including electing our first trans state senator and almost doubling the number of trans state legislators. These down-ballot victories reflect where America stands on the inclusion of LGBTQ people in our nation’s politics and each one represents an important step forward on the march toward equality.”
Delaware elected two LGBTQ candidates for the first time, with Sarah McBride to the state Senate and Eric Morrison and Marie Pinkney to the state House. McBride’s win also makes her the first openly transgender person elected to any state Senate in the U.S.
“I hope tonight shows an LGBTQ kid that our democracy is big enough for them, too,” McBride tweeted election night after the race was called as she received 91 percent of the vote.
In Alaska, which has never had an LGBTQ state legislator, the results are still too close to call, with lesbian Lyn Franks trailing in the race by 148 votes as of Friday, Nov. 13.
Openly gay Black Democrat Torrey Harris won his race for Tennessee state house, as did openly gay Republican Eddie Mannis. They are the first openly LGBTQ state legislators in Tennessee.
Only two other states — Louisiana and Mississippi — have never elected an LGBTQ state legislator.
Black LGBTQ candidates are also being elected in record numbers. In addition to Tennessee’s Torrey Harris, Kim Jackson will be the first LGBTQ person elected to the Georgia Senate; Jabari Brisport is the first openly LGBTQ person of color elected to the New York State Legislature; and two Delaware openly lesbian candidates won their races for the Delaware legislature, Tiara Mack in the state senate and Marie Pinkney in the state general assembly.
Transgender state legislative representation builds from four to seven after this election. Along with McBride’s win in Delaware, Vermont’s Taylor Small won her state house election, becoming the first transgender person in that state’s legislature.
The first out transgender person of color to be elected to a state legislature in the nation is Kansas’ Stephanie Byers.
Three incumbent transgender legislators — New Hampshire’s Lisa Bunker and Gerri Cannon and Colorado’s Brianna Titone — all won their re-elections.
Todd Gloria is the first out LGBTQ person to be elected San Diego Mayor.
In Alaska, Austin Quinn-Davidson became the first openly LGBTQ mayor in Anchorage after the incumbent resigned in October.
Charmaine McGuffey was elected Hamilton County, Ohio Sheriff, defeating her former boss whom, McGuffey said fired her for being lesbian.
Out lesbian Kristin Graziano was elected Charleston County, South Carolina, Sheriff, the first woman to ever hold the job.
“Not only are these wins historic, but they’re a sign of positive change in law enforcement spaces. Both Charmaine and Kristin took on an old-boys network that thrived on abuse,” Victory Fund representatives said in a statement. “Both women made police and prison reform pillars of their campaigns and have pledged to create more inclusive departments while increasing community outreach. And both spoke about how being a lesbian and a woman will make them better leaders.”