With a high-profile speech Wednesday, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton made her biggest overture to date to win the support of voters with disabilities, reaching out to a group with growing political clout.
A report released Thursday underscores the ideologically diverse nature of that demographic — and suggests that so far Clinton has not made significantly more headway than with the public as a whole.
A Pew Research Center survey found Clinton leading Republican nominee Donald Trump, 47 percent to 40 percent, among voters who have a disability. The result was nearly the same — 45 percent to 38 percent — among those without a disability. (Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson fared a few points better among those without a disability than those with one.)
In the survey, conducted in August and early September, those with disabilities also identified as Democrats and Republicans in about the same percentages as the public as a whole. They placed themselves along the political spectrum in roughly the same numbers as well.
As Pew put it: “Americans with disabilities look similar to those without disabilities both in terms of party affiliation and their distribution across the ideological spectrum. And . . . the presidential preferences of disabled voters were little different than those of the public as a whole.”
The Pew survey found that 22 percent of Americans self-report living with a disability, which was defined as a “health problem, disability, or handicap currently keeping you from participating fully in work, school, housework, or other activities.”
Pew also reported that those self-identifying as disabled are somewhat more likely to report being engaged in the election. In a June survey, 71 percent said that “it really matters who wins the election,” compared with 59 percent who do not have a disability.
Meanwhile, those with disabilities are less likely to vote than the public as a whole, and one-fifth of those who did not vote in the 2014 midterm elections cited sickness or disability as a reason.