Compiled by Human Rights Campaign (HRC) staff
LGBTQ+ Americans are projected to become one of the fastest growing voting blocs in the country, growing at a scale, scope, and speed that will fundamentally reshape the American electoral landscape, according to a new report from the Human Rights Campaign and Bowling Green State University.
The report — Equality Electorate: The Projected Growth of the LGBTQ+ Voting Bloc in Coming Years — offers new analysis of publicly available data and projects that by 2030 approximately one-in-seven voters will be LGBTQ+, representing a sharp increase over the current one-in-ten. The LGBTQ+ bloc is projected to continue surging in the decade following, nearing one-in-five voters by 2040, emerging as among one of the most influential voting constituencies in the country whose impact will permanently transform and reshape the American electoral landscape.
“The LGBTQ+ voting bloc has been steadily growing and is on track to exponentially expand in the coming years, becoming one of the fastest growing voting constituencies in the country, wielding increasing influence in local, state, and federal elections,” said Joni Madison, Interim President of the Human Rights Campaign. “LGBTQ+ voters are already playing a pivotal role in elections, and in the coming years will fundamentally reshape the American electoral landscape — especially in battleground states and swing districts that are consequential to determining control of the Presidency and Congress.”
The analysis — which was developed using publicly available data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey and demographic projections from the University of Virginia Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service — offers a glimpse not only into the growing influence LGBTQ+ voters will exert on electoral outcomes in coming years, but a contrast in terms of the role LGBTQ+ people are projected to play in future elections. Within the next generation, LGBTQ+ voters will grow to represent nearly one-in-five voters, meaning pro-equality candidates at every level will have an edge.
Key Findings of the Report
By 2030, one-in-seven (14.3 percent) voters will be LGBTQ+ identifying — representing a sharp increase from the present day — and is projected to continue surging in the decade following, nearing one-in-five (17.8 percent) voters by 2040.
- 2022 Elections — In the 2022 Midterm elections, LGBTQ+ identified people account for one-in ten (11.3 percent) people in the voting eligible population (VEP; defined as adults age 18+) in the United States.
- 2020 Elections — For context, 2022 projections show a slight increase in the projected proportion of the VEP that identified as LGBTQ+ during the 2020 General Election (10.8 percent).
- During the 2020 election, the vast majority of LGBTQ+ adults were registered to vote — and most of them showed up to the polls and voted. The 2020 General Election saw the highest proportion of voters identifying as LGBTQ+ recorded since tracking began in 1992.
- The LGBTQ+ electorate was pivotal in ensuring Joe Biden’s victory in several key states — and, subsequently, in winning the Presidency. Had LGBTQ+ voters stayed home, it is likely Donald Trump would have won re-election.
The surge in LGBTQ+ voters is expected to transform the American electoral landscape, most critically tipping the scales in “red” states that are on the cusp of no longer being categorized as reliably “red,” helping to push those states into firmly “purple” territory. In several consequential states, the proportion of LGBTQ+ voters will almost double between 2020 and 2040.
- Georgia — In Georgia, the proportion of the VEP identifying as LGBTQ+ is projected to grow from over one-in-ten (11 percent) in 2020, to almost one-in-five (19.2 percent) in 2040.
- Texas & Arizona — Similar changes are projected for Texas (increasing from 11.6 percent to 19.9 percent) and Arizona (increasing from 12 percent to 19.4 percent).
- Ohio — Ohio is projected to see the largest percent change in the VEP identifying as LGBTQ+, increasing by over 86 percent (from 9.5 percent in 2020 to 17.7 percent in 2040).
- North Carolina — As of 2020 more than 10 percent of registered voters identify as LGBTQ. By 2040, that number is expected to jump to practically 15 percent.
The impact of LGBTQ+ voters is projected to be most significant in areas where independent and swing voters have most sway – in terms of not only reorienting the battleground map by pushing those areas into more firmly “blue” territory, but in terms of also increasingly favoring pro-equality candidates in states and districts that are consequential in determining who wins control of the White House and Congress.
- Nevada & Colorado — In both Nevada (21.3 percent) and Colorado (21.4 percent) the proportion of the VEP identifying as LGTBQ+ will exceed one-in-five by 2040.
Impetus Behind Growth of LGBTQ+ Identifying Voters
Year over year, the proportion of U.S. adults openly identifying as LGBTQ+ has steadily increased: In 2021, more than 7.1 percent of all U.S. adults (age 18+) on the Gallup Poll Social Surveys identified as LGBTQ+, double that of less than a decade before (3.5 percent in 2012), and a more than 25 percent increase from 2020, when 5.6 percent of adults identified as LGBT.
This has largely been driven by increases in LGBTQ+ identification among younger generations, who are coming out and openly identifying as LGBTQ+ at younger ages than ever before, as well as identifying with more expansive sexual and gender identities than the “typical” lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. In the 2021 Gallup data, more than one-in-five (20.8 percent) Generation Z adult respondents (age 18+) identified as a sexual and/or gender minority, as did more than one-in-ten (10.5 percent) Millennials, compared with less than one-in-twenty (4.2 percent) Generation X adults, and only 2.6 percent of Baby Boomers.
One of the reasons driving higher rates of LGBTQ+ identification among younger generations is that, against a backdrop of rising national support for pro-equality policies overall, on average younger age groups hold more pro-equality, LGBTQ+ affirming attitudes and beliefs than older generations. At the same time, higher rates of LGBTQ+ identification among young people leads cisgender and heterosexual youth to be more familiar and comfortable with LGBTQ+ people, which has further implications for pro-equality views; previous research has consistently found that knowing LGBTQ+ people, particularly close friends and family, is associated with increased acceptance of LGBTQ+ people, and support for pro-equality policies such as same-sex marriage.
Increased acceptance of LGBTQ+ people and pro-equality policies among Millennials and Generation Z have important implications for future elections. As the U.S. population continues to age, both generations will increasingly account for larger shares of the population — and, subsequently, a larger share of the voting eligible population. Given that LGBTQ+ people are growing as a share of the U.S. population, largely driven by higher LGBTQ+ identification among younger generations, it is safe to assume that LGBTQ+ Americans and their pro-equality allies are, and will increasingly continue to be, an important voting bloc in American elections.
The full report can be found on HRC’s website here.