Tuesday, February 12, 2008

It's Not About Race and Sex

I want to express my continued annoyance with high-profile commentators why make assertions without applying even a minimum of evidence-based scrutiny. Today, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton, approvingly quotes syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman, who says "Southern white men still won't vote for a white woman."

This leads Slaughter to conclude

In other words, many white men in the South may be voting against Hillary more than they are voting for Obama.... Just because these voters prefer Obama to Hillary does not mean that they will vote for Obama over McCain, no matter what the polls say. It's very hard to believe that when the chips are down they're not going to vote for the guy who looks like them.
Right, better to trust your own idle speculation about racism rather than what the data has to say. If it's all about race and sex, what happened to Edwards?

Anyway, the entire basis for her argument--Goodman's claim that white men don't vote for white women--is quickly refuted by a glance at Wikipedia. Nine Southern states have elected women senators, and there are currently five Southern women in the Senate--including Democrats and Republicans--all of whom had to have been elected with significant numbers of votes from white men. Kay Bailey Hutchinson received 70% of the white guy vote in 2006.

So if all those white men voting for Obama aren't just voting against the white woman, that leaves what would have seemed the more obvious possibility all along: they like the sound of "President Obama."

By the way, as a white man and once and forever Texan, I did my best to pump up the evidence for Goodman's bogus theory, by voting against Hutchinson in her first term election. But I also had the pleasure of voting for Governor Ann Richards.

No comments: