WASHINGTON -- Polling data conducted by a prominent Democratic firm shows that President Barack Obama's standing in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities was far better than his standing with the public at large, even before he signed into law the repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy banning openly gay servicemembers.
In an October survey conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, 64 percent of self-described LGBT community members said they approved or strongly approved of the way Obama was handling his job. While only 30 percent of all likely voters said the country was headed in the right direction (62 percent said the opposite), 46 percent of LGBT respondents answered "right direction" (49 percent said "wrong direction").
The poll numbers, which had not been previously released, were sent to The Huffington Post on the condition that the full survey not be published. The high-ranking LBGT operative who passed the numbers along cited them as evidence that the gay community was not disaffected with the president prior to November's midterm elections and that they would not lose patience with Obama even if he fails to persuade Congress to move major agenda items in the years ahead.
"The research is very current and my guess is, if anything, the numbers will be better now that DADT was repealed, not worse," the operative said.
The survey polled 1,077 self-described members of the LGBT community, half by phone and half online.
The idea that the president's standing with the gay-rights community remains on thin ice despite DADT's repeal has been repeated in some LGBT circles in recent weeks. In particular, there is growing consternation over Obama's reluctance to embrace same-sex marriage -- an issue on which he has claimed his opinion is changing, but on which he nonetheless lags behind several prominent conservatives.
Even some gay-rights advocates who have been highly critical of Obama acknowledge, however, that repeal of the gay military ban have somewhat muted their complaints for the moment.
"I was one of the administration's toughest critics and thought they should have moved more quickly," said Richard Socarides, president of Equality Matters and not the source for the Greenberg poll. "I think now, the only thing anyone cares about is that it is done. And I think President Obama's strategy paid off and he deserves a lot of credit. So I think people in the gay-rights community feel very positive towards him and there is no other way about it."
Socarides said the path to federal legalization of same-sex marriage is likely to mirror that of DADT repeal: slow growth of popular support complemented by progress in the courts.
Gay rights, of course, are not the only issue affecting the president's standing with the LGBT community; only 5 percent of the Greenberg survey's LGBT respondents described them as the most important issue facing the country today. Fifty-eight percent, meanwhile, cited the economy as their top concern.