The Poisoned Landscape VI: Race And The Gender Gap Over Time

landscape.jpg[Editor’s note: This is the last of a six-part series by Paul Lukasiak on what polling reveals about how Americans will vote in the coming election. For more details, see parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.— DN]

PART VI: When Race Becomes an Issue — The Gender Gap Over Time

The SUSA 50 state poll provides an excellent opportunity to describe the contours of the political landscape at a specific point in time, but cannot tell us anything about voter behavior over time within that landscape. The image is static; it’s not a movie, but a snapshot (or, perhaps more appropriately, a multi-dimension holographic image), and where voters are “pooled” like a liquids in 50 different areas of that landscape.

As the contours of the landscape change, the voters wind up “pooling” in different places, and a political campaign is the equivalent of candidates and other people trying to shift the contours of the landscape to get the voters to “pool” where they want them. While the actions of the candidates and others can change the contours of the landscape by raising issues and providing new information, the landscape can also change “naturally”. But ultimately, it is “the media” that controls the landscape by controlling the access, and more crucially, the nature of the access, to the levers and pulleys that change the contours of that landscape.

It is “the media” that decides whether “illegal immigration” or “universal health coverage” or “Hillary Clinton’s tax returns” is actually the force determining the contours of the landscape, and decides who has what kind of access to the levers of power as the landscape changes. The SUSA 50 state poll provides a still picture of what looks like a “political landscape”, but when that picture comes to life and the contours begin to shift, it is because what we are really looking at is a “media landscape”.

The media manifestly shape voter behavior, and that couldn’t be clearer than when we examine how their handling of issues of race (and accusations of racism) over the course of the campaign alters voting patterns in ways that leave the gender gap relatively unaffected.

So as the landscape changes, and the voters “pool” in different areas, the gender gap itself usually changes. South Carolina and Ohio provide two examples of how the gender gap changes as the “media landscape” changes — but how, when the media decides to make “race” an issue, it can shift large numbers of voters without substantially altering the gender gap. (more…)

The Poisoned Landscape V: Sexism Is An Issue, Not Just A Factor

[Editor’s note: This is the fifth of a six-part series by Paul Lukasiak on what polling reveals about how Americans will vote in the coming election. For more details, see parts 1, 2, 3, and 4. — DN]

We’ve seen, over the course of the preceding data, the way that sexism and racism are affecting voter behavior in the 2008. And perhaps the most salient finding is a simple one: That when sexism or racism come into play, they each increase the power of the other to influence the outcome of the election.

That is, when Democrats indulge sexism, it enhances the influence of racism in the election, and vice versa. And when it comes to sexism, no figure in recent history has elicited as powerful a reaction as Hillary Clinton.

At the time SUSA data was gathered, the Jeremiah Wright controversy had not yet exploded on the national scene, and while “racism” was a factor, it wasn’t really an “issue.”

But when it comes to Hillary Clinton, it is clear that her gender isn’t just a “factor”, but an issue. If she “acts like a woman” and shows emotion, it becomes a topic for endless media discussion and speculation. If she gives a speech to a woman’s group, or she discusses the historic nature of her candidacy, she’s playing the “gender card”. How she looks, including what she is wearing, and how she sounds, are discussed in ways in which the media would never consider talking about a man. She is consistently defined in terms of her husband and marriage, and accused of not getting where she is on her own, but rather because of who her husband is.

The hostility toward Hillary Clinton is visceral, and is comparable to the hostility and hatred directed toward Eleanor Roosevelt in her day. Roosevelt was the first “modern” First Lady — and the first truly post-woman’s suffrage one. While many First Ladies were women of sharp intelligence and political acumen, prior to Roosevelt they stayed behind the scenes. Eleanor Roosevelt completely rejected the then “traditional” role of First Lady, and became a public figure who was a strong advocate for civil rights and human rights, and played a significant role in her husband’s administration.


The Poisoned Landscape IV: Sexism, Racism, and Win/Loss Margins

chart-1a.jpg [Editor’s note: This is the fourth of a six-part series by Paul Lukasiak on what polling reveals about how Americans will vote in the coming election. For more details, see parts 1, 2, and 3. — DN]

The poisoned landscapes described in the preceding chapters are not merely an academic concern. Sexism and racism are also having an impact on the win/loss margins in individual states – and will play a major role in how the November campaign unfolds as certain states wind up “out of play” because of either sexism or racism (depending upon the candidate.)

Among the more noteworthy traits the data reveals is that as the percentage of black voters in a state increases, the presence of sexist and mysoginist attitudes decline. And that in turn can tell us a lot about voting trends in the coming election.

The chart at left is sorted by the percentage of Republican voters (Grey DATAPOINTS and line), in order to help differentiate between changes that result from an increase of Republicans, and changes that occur for other reasons. Most of the chart itself is unsurprising.

— Red (Clinton) and Blue (Obama) data points and lines/Overall vote percentage against McCain: It will come as no surprise to anyone that the more Republicans there are in a state, the fewer votes a Democrat will get.

These Red and Blue lines do, in fact, run parallel to each other, but that merely reflects overall trends over 50 states. The same parallel lines pattern appears when we sort alphabetically with Obama showing a slight, but consistent, advantage over Clinton, and the data points appear distributed at random.


The Poisoned Landscape III: When The Gender Gap Shrinks


[Editor’s note: This is the third of a six-part series by Paul Lukasiak on what polling reveals about how Americans will vote in the coming election. Part I gave an overview explaining that "Not just sexism but also racism were major factors in how the 2008 election would play out." Part 2 examined what happens when the percentage of black voters increases. — DN]

Racism and Sexism: What Happens When the Gender Gap Shrinks

The previous chapter shows how the gender gap decreases as the Black vote increases. By sorting the same data by the gender gap shift, we can see what happens as the gender gap decreases. (Note that the numbers at the bottom of the chart reflect the progression of the gender gap shift, and not the percentage of Black voters.)

The first thing that should be noted is that while overall gender gap trends are related to the percentage of African American voters, there is considerable variation. The grouping of Black triangles near the Plum line represent those states with the lowest percentage of African American voters; this group includes all the heavily Republican Mountains/Plains states, and also includes two “home states” (Hawaii and Arizona) where “favorite son” status trumps the gender gap.

It is important to keep in mind that while we are looking at an overall trend, that trend in some senses represents a series of similar “sub-trends.” So while heavily Republican states may not have the largest gender gaps, within the subset of heavily Republican states you see a decrease in the gender gap as the percentage of African American voters increases.

So while there are a lot of Black triangles (representing the percentage of Black voters at that point on the gender gap trend line) grouped around the Black % trend line, there are also quite a few obvious outliers.


The Poisoned Landscape II: The Intersection of Racism and Sexism

Chart Two: Racism and Sexism

[Editor’s note: This is the second of a six-part series by Paul Lukasiak on what polling reveals about how Americans will vote in the coming election. Part I gave an overview explaining that "Not just sexism but also racism were major factors in how the 2008 election would play out." — DN]

Part II: Racism and Sexism: What Happens When the Percentage of Black Voters Increases

There are obvious patterns that emerge when one compares the gender gap to the percentage of Black voters among the electorate, as shown on Chart Two. It is important to keep in mind that the data is weighed to reflect the impact of changes on overall vote totals. (see Note 2).

PLUM LINE (NOTCHED)– The 0% axis. As trend lines go toward the PLUM line, gaps decrease, as trend lines go toward the PLUM line, gaps increase. (In other words, a line that goes down above the PLUM line shows a shrinking gap, a line going down below the PLUM line shows a growing gap.)

DATA POINTS are triangles or other shapes that represent specific data. LINES (except for most instances with the BLACK line) represent “trends” in the data for a particular data series that is the same color as the data points. (See Note 1)

BLACK DATA POINTS/LINE — Black voter % data (and trend line): The actual percentage of Black voters, and the other data is based on these Black voter percentages (all data points are on the line) The BLACK % trend line only varies when the data is sorted differently. In general the closer the data points are to their corresponding line, the more likely that the trend line describes something significant in relation to the variable that was used to sort the data.


The Poisoned Landscape I: Race, Gender, And Election 2008

[Editor’s note: Our old friend Paul Lukasiak has been poring over polling data relating to the coming election, and what his analysis indicates is equal parts significant and disquieting. We think they’re significant enough that our readers will want to examine each section individually. So beginning today and continuing for the next five days, we’ll be presenting them as chapters in a multi-part series. Here’s the first part. — DN]

In choosing a nominee, the Democratic Party will not merely be deciding who deserves to win, or who would make the best candidate. It will also be a decision about which poisoned landscape the Party wishes to compete upon — one in which toxic wildflowers of misogyny and sexism are in full bloom, or one in which the poisonous weed of racism is a constant part of the environment, and needs the merest watering to completely despoil the land.

When the Survey USA (SUSA) 50 State Poll was released on March 6 (conducted Feb 26-28) comparing how McCain does against both Obama and Clinton, simply by looking at the data you could see wide discrepancies in how men and women voted. The trend is clear: men and women voted differently depending upon whether McCain was matched against Clinton or Obama. Women tended to stick with the Democrat regardless of whether it was Clinton or Obama, while men more frequently favored McCain when Clinton was on the ballot. The gender gap was significantly smaller when Obama was on the ballot. Sexism was obviously playing a role in the political landscape.

But it was clear that another factor was at work, a phenomenon described in a recent Nicholas Kristof column. When states were broken down by region, the two most consistently Republican/conservative regions showed a significant and consistent difference in the size of their gender gaps. The gap was much larger in the Mountain/Plains states than in The South. Not just sexism but also racism were major factors in how the 2008 election would play out.

Is Woody Out?

Bob Woodward.jpg

(In response to last night’s post on the Page Six gossip that Bob Woodward may be retiring from the Washington Post, Paul Lukasiak wrote this comment and I thought it deserved much wider exposure — JH)

There are excellent reasons why the Post is extremely unhappy with Woodward right now.

First and foremost, his story makes no sense. And what “sense” it does make, implicates Woodward (and, by extension, the Post) in a conspiracy to obstruct justice.

First, why Woodward’s story makes no sense.

1) Woodward claims that he was told about “Wilson’s wife” before anyone else.
2) Woodward claims that he told Pincus immediately, but didn’t tell Downie at that point.
3) Woodward knows that Pincus has an obligation to tell Downie (and the Post lawyers) everything he knows about the “Plame” story, especially given that Pincus was subpoenaed and the Post’s lawyers negotiated the terms under which Pincus was eventually deposed by Fitzgerald
4) Thus, Woodward has to have assumed that Pincus had told Downie that Woodward had told Pincus about “Wilson’s wife”, and that there was no reason for Woodward to have kept it a secret from Downie until October 24th.
5) When Woodward went public with his “I told Pincus” story, Pincus denied it.
6) When Woodward was questioned about telling Pincus, he said that he told Pincus while he was passing Pincus’s desk, and Pincus said “What?”, which Woodward took to mean “That’s interesting”. Woodward also said that was the full extent of the conversation
7) Woodward later admitted that “What?” could have meant “I didn’t hear what you said.”

Conclusion – Woodward never told Pincus what he claims he told Pincus. If Woodward believed that Pincus knew, he would not have kept the info from Downie. Pincus had no reason to hide from Downie the fact that Woodward had told him about “Wilson’s wife”, he denied ever being told about “Wilson’s wife” by Woodward, and Woodward’s “explanation” was not merely incredibly lame, but was eventually retracted.