October 19, 2018 at 7:26 am PDT | by Karen Ocamb
HRC: LGBT voters could be the deciders in 2018

HRC’s Chad Griffin (right) with out Rep. Mark Takano at Gil Cisneros campaign event (Photo courtesy HRC)

Chad Griffin is a traveling man, touching down in key states to rally campaigns the Human Rights Campaign has prioritized for the Nov. 6 midterms, including several in Southern California.

After the 2016 election, HRC set up a “war room” to fight defensively for equality “non-stop.” But HRC also changed tactics. “We said we’re going to invest and have the largest grassroots expansion in our history—on the offense,” HRC President Chad Griffin tells the Los Angeles Blade as he drives to a Gil Cisneros campaign event in Brea. That meant prioritizing races, putting organizers on the ground in key districts and states, including a full time staff in California. “You can safely say we’re making six-figure expenditures” in the prioritized California districts.

The strategy is to energize the estimated million-plus LGBTQ eligible voters in California.

“In 2016, 5% of the electorate identified as LGBTQ. That means 7 million voters in the last election identified as LGBTQ. We were one of the only voting blocs that increased our turnout election over election. While it was a depressing election night—much like 2008 here in California—there was a bright spot. We had invested aggressively to oust North Carolina’s Republican incumbent governor after he’d attacked LGBTQ people—trans people, especially with HB2 –in a state that voted for Trump by 4 points,” Griffin says. “That took a massive grassroots turnout of LGBTQ people and our allies across the state.”

But that was no one-and-done success. HRC conducted research and now, says Griffin, “we have the breakdown for LGBTQ voter data for every single state.”

Using exit polling/turnout data and 2016 Gallup data, HRC concluded that “the California LGBTQ voter number is an estimated 1.4 million eligible voters,” Griffin says. And that number is low, considering how many voters do not come out to strangers asking exit polling questions. Plus, research on millennials indicates that between 15-20% of millennials identify as LGBTQ.

“That is our low bar. But let’s just say that’s the number. With 1.4 million LGBTQ eligible voters in the state of California – that means we can be the deciding factor in all of these key races,” says Griffin. “We can be the deciding factor in who wins an election today. And then you add our allies to that—it is a force.”

But that force flops if LGBTQ eligible voters don’t register and turnout to vote. “No one wants to have regrets” the day after the election that more could have been done, says Griffin, recalling the devastation after Prop 8 passed. “We have to turn out to vote.”

See HRC’s Voting Center here.

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