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That Troubling 19

I see on EDM that a new poll (PDF) "found that 81 percent of the respondents would vote for a woman for President." Well, good for 81 percent of us. But what's going through the heads of the other 19 percent? Are there not enough women in the extreme right-hand tail of the Awesome Presidential Leadership distribution curve? I sort of assume, moreover, that this 19 percent is actually an understatement of the number of people who feel this way, because you often find with questions like this that a certain number of people don't want to express the "wrong" answer.

February 24, 2005 | Permalink

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» 100 versus 81 from Conglomerate
Yesterday, when I heard on the news that 81% of Americans would consider voting for a woman for President, I considered that progress. But Matt Yglesias reminds us today that knowing that 19% of Americans would never consider voting for... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 24, 2005 11:08:27 AM

» Hasty Conclusions from Balloon Juice
Matt Yglesias writes: I see on EDM that a new poll (PDF) "found that 81 percent of the respondents would... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 24, 2005 4:24:48 PM

» Yeah, Right from Polemic Propaganda
A Siena College Research Institute Poll (*.pdf) for Hearst Newspapers would suggest that the U.S. as a nation is becoming more amenable to the idea of a female president, reporting that 81% of respondents would vote for a woman president. Sweet. Of cou... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 24, 2005 4:31:11 PM

» Does Public Opinion Exist? from Left Center Left
Josh Chafetz at OxBlog is raising a fuss over recent German polls showing preference to Putin over Bush: no matter what your values (within the range of the reasonable), Bush is preferable to Putin. Put differently, if the poll-takers suddenly [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 25, 2005 8:11:04 AM

Comments

BUt in this case, isn't it actually the wrong answer, and not just the "wrong" answer?

Posted by: Big Picnic | Feb 24, 2005 9:59:37 AM

Wait until it's Hillary/Condi in '08.

- Josh

Posted by: Wild Pegasus | Feb 24, 2005 10:12:09 AM

Not inside the heads of people who wouldn't vote for a woman, it isn't. Those people believe that not voting for a woman is right, but they won't admit it because they're aware that society considers it 'wrong'. To you and me, wrong. To society in general, wrong. To the hypocrite Matt's talking about, 'wrong'.

What worries me more than the 19% is the large fraction of the 81% for whom femaleness isn't an absolute bar on getting their vote, but is still a substantial detriment. Race, of course, works this way too -- isn't there a rule of thumb that black candidates generally lose a couple of percentage points between the last poll and the election, because a lot of voters get into the privacy of the voting booth and just won't vote for the black guy.

Posted by: LizardBreath | Feb 24, 2005 10:13:32 AM

Wait until it's Hillary/Condi in '08

08 will be a great year for 3rd party candidates

Posted by: cleek | Feb 24, 2005 10:15:13 AM

Assuming that's a poll of registered or eligible voters, 19% seems far less than the demonstrated number that won't vote for anyone for President, regardless of sex.

Posted by: cmdicely | Feb 24, 2005 10:18:56 AM

OT, but ROTFL:

Don't watch at work or around kids.

http://homepage.mac.com/njenson/movies/billmaher021805gannon.html

Posted by: AlGore | Feb 24, 2005 10:21:34 AM

cmdicely beat me to it: over 40% of people won't vote for a man for president.

Posted by: bunny | Feb 24, 2005 10:26:15 AM

I'm curious about question wording and the gender of the persons asking the question. On abortion, men are more likely to say they are pro choice when the person asking the questions is a woman.

What I suspect this means is that there are 19 percent of people who are happy to tell pollsters that they wouldn't vote for a woman for president. Some (likely a tiny percentage) are playing with the pollsters. But I suspect most others are not. More disturbing is that this many people think its a perfectly cool thing to say. I also suspect that to the extent there are 19 percent who, to borrow from Josh Marshall, are loud and proud, then the real number is likely a good bit higher. Lizardbreath is making almost the same point.

You see a lot of stuff about how liberal norms are prevailing - tolerance of gays on the raise, bush voters supporting minimum wage etc. But this points in the other direction. We've all come along way (baby), but we've all got a long way to go.

Posted by: benton | Feb 24, 2005 10:40:55 AM

Perhaps the thought process is not that general, but more specific. The respondent runs through a short list of possibles and finds none of them adequate. If there were several Ripley-type (without the alien DNA) combat veterans in prominent positions the 19% might shrink.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Feb 24, 2005 10:59:39 AM

Technically, it's not the "wrong" answer, unless they're mistaken, and actually WOULD vote for a woman. They're being asked what they would do, after all. One presumes they have some insight into that.

And I wouldn't be too sure that, though the question is stated in the abstract, that many of them have a particular woman in mind.

Posted by: Brett Bellmore | Feb 24, 2005 11:01:20 AM

Well, there's 'wrong' descriptively, in which case it is probably the correct answer, and 'wrong' normatively, in which case I would argue that correct or incorrect, it's still just wrong.

Posted by: LizardBreath | Feb 24, 2005 11:20:04 AM

The poll showed that 38% of voters think that America is "not ready" for a woman president. This is more likely a truer indication of the percentage of voters who would have difficulty voting for a woman. Note also that the poll did not ask, "would the fact that one candidate was a woman increase or decrease the likelihood that you would vote for that candidate?" That's the real issue- not whether in the abstract a voter could ever imagine voting for a woman candidate.

Posted by: JR | Feb 24, 2005 11:23:59 AM

Well, it's certainly stupid, we'll agree on that. I'm hoping like hell to get the chance to vote for Rice, personally.

Posted by: Brett Bellmore | Feb 24, 2005 11:24:52 AM

Given recent polls of high school students (Freedom of what?), perhaps the other 19 percent are monarchists.

Posted by: Ken | Feb 24, 2005 11:34:58 AM

I'm hoping like hell to get the chance to vote for Rice, personally.

because you think perjurers with no elected experience are the kind of people who should run America ?

Posted by: cleek | Feb 24, 2005 11:38:46 AM

Well, it's certainly stupid, we'll agree on that. I'm hoping like hell to get the chance to vote for Rice, personally.

Oh, my God, I hope Rice somehow gets nominated as the Republican candidate in '08. Then the good christian conservative base of Republican party will show themselves for the vile racists and sexists they are. Suddenly the solid south will disappear. There is no way a black woman will win the states of the Confederacy. Look for a third party candidate in the mold of George Wallace (Roy Moore maybe?).

Posted by: Freder Frederson | Feb 24, 2005 11:40:14 AM

Wait until it's Hillary/Condi in '08.

I don't think that's far from the truth, at least in general terms. That's to say, the American public will vote for a woman president only when two women are on the ballot. And perhaps not even then.

I'm hoping like hell to get the chance to vote for Rice, personally.

I can only assume that's in keeping with your principle of having incompetents in high office.

Posted by: ahem | Feb 24, 2005 11:40:20 AM

That's the real issue- not whether in the abstract a voter could ever imagine voting for a woman candidate.

Quite. I bet there were a lot of liars in that poll. Did they release whether it was men or women pollsters asking the questions? Nope. And I suspect that makes a difference, too.

Posted by: ahem | Feb 24, 2005 11:42:52 AM

Brett,while I don't share Democrats' animus for Rice, I have a tough time understanding the Rice-for-President enthusiasm among Republicans. She's certainly very bright and her biography speaks well of her, but the Presidency is not a job for somebody who has never run for office before.

Yes, there are exceptions, but the best of the exceptions, Eisenhower (let's exclude perhaps the best President ever, Washington, for obvious reasons), had such a unique experience managing a gigantic bureaucracy, and engaging in alliance building, while achieving a world-historical military victory, that his example really doesn't apply to anything else. The Presidency simply isn't a starter job in electoral politics. If Rice has a burning desire to be President (which is the first requisite) she had better get elected to something else first.

Posted by: Will Allen | Feb 24, 2005 11:45:01 AM

Brett,while I don't share Democrats' animus for Rice, I have a tough time understanding the Rice-for-President enthusiasm among Republicans

To be fair, Brett only wrote that he hoped to vote for Rice. He gave no specific information about showing up at 8:34AM at his local elementary school gym on November 4, 2008 to actually vote for her.

Posted by: HistDoc | Feb 24, 2005 11:52:53 AM

Yes, I'm hoping to vote for Rice in 2012, after she succeeds Arnie as Governor of California in 2010. I mean, after four years of President Hillary, I will certainly be ready for a President Condi. But the Condi/Jeb primary of 2012 will be one heck of a race. Especially compelling after that Frist debacle of 2008.

Sorry... back to reality, now.

Posted by: Al | Feb 24, 2005 11:59:39 AM

Any woman who ran for President would have to be wicked hawkish on defense to counter gender stereotypes. Hillary is already boning up on the Armed Services Committee and racking up frequent flyer mileage visiting War Zones.

Posted by: Ron Mwangaguhunga | Feb 24, 2005 12:10:45 PM

"Then the good christian conservative base of Republican party will show themselves for the vile racists and sexists they are."

Or aren't.

Will, it's not that hard to understand. As you say, great biography. She seems to actually hold social views I like, such as being a self-described 2nd amendment "absolutist". Her views on abortion, (That it ought to be largely free early in pregnancy, and become very restrictive towards the end.) are quite reasonable.

And the big problem is that the qualifications for GETTING the office are not the same as for doing well once in it. What we really want isn't somebody who's hungry to have power, we want somebody who'd have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the Oval office. Basicly, if you really WANT to be President, you shouldn't be.

Posted by: Brett Bellmore | Feb 24, 2005 12:13:44 PM

What we really want isn't somebody who's hungry to have power, we want somebody who'd have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the Oval office.

Frankly, I don't want either. Someone who "has to be dragged kicking and screaming into the Oval Office" is likely to be a tentative, ineffectual shirker.

Posted by: cmdicely | Feb 24, 2005 12:23:46 PM

I don't put much stock in polls like this. In an actual election, people are likely to vote based on the actual parties and candidates, not based on some hypothetical. Conservative Texans didn't have any problem electing women as Senator and Governor. Maggie Thatcher got elected and re-elected in the UK 25 years ago, not because gender equality is so much more advanced among the British, but because they trusted her and her party more than the opposition. Maybe people who say they wouldn't vote for a woman just mean they wouldn't vote for Hillary.

Posted by: ed | Feb 24, 2005 12:28:51 PM

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