Tuesday, May 24, 2016

How Many Republican Women Will Vote For Hillary?

I got incensed from reading this morning's column by David Brooks, Why Is Clinton Disliked?  Brooks takes as given the polling results, where Clinton has many unfavorables.  Might those results themselves be questioned as to their accuracy?  Brooks doesn't do that.  I will discuss this one below. 

Might a good bit of Clinton's unfavorables be attributed to the Republican attack machine (think about the Benghazi Committee and those damn emails)?  Brooks doesn't mention this, even though there is a front page story in today's paper entitled, Kenneth Starr, Who Tried to Bury Bill Clinton, Now Only Praises Him.   Clearly the Republican attack machine got after Bill while he was President.  How can it be that Brooks ignores the issue entirely?

Hats off to Margaret Chase Smith for being the first woman to run for President.  (If you check out the Wikipedia entry on this you'll find at number 15 Gracie Allen listed for 1940, running in the Surprise Party.  The person who keeps that page clearly has a sense of humor.)  Whether you like her or not, it is clear that Hillary Clinton is the first woman to run for President with a likelihood of actually winning.  Given that, might some of the unfavorables be attributed to misogyny?  Again, Brooks doesn't entertain the possibility.

Even in bringing out the relevant facts, Brooks gets it wrong.  Brooks says that Obama shows his human side, with his passion for basketball and golf.  But during the 2008 campaign, there was no mention of golf.  There was, however, a big deal made out of his bowling.  And on that score (pun intended) Obama was dreadful.  If that event had been recalled in Brooks column, perhaps the reader would see Obama and Clinton as two peas in a pod.  Instead, Brooks depicts the President in his recreational time as just like Joe Sixpack, surely a big stretch even if he really is a golf enthusiast.

A couple of weeks ago Thomas Edsall had a column, How Many People Support Trump but Don't Want to Admit It?   The core hypothesis in that piece is that there may be many racists who remain in the closet.  They will not admit to their racism, which in the circles they travel is taboo.  So they hide their true views when polled about them.  This is an argument that the polls may be wrong because the true preferences of such voters can't be measured accurately.  Brooks has to be aware of the argument.  Couldn't the same sort of argument be applied in the opposite direction?

What of Republican women?  Do we know their preferences?  Consider this piece from a month ago, about Laura Bush "hinting at" supporting Hillary Clinton.  Doesn't this suggest that Republican women might feel constrained to make public announcements about supporting a Democrat, any Democrat, even if they have been totally offended by Trump?  Why is that hypothesis so hard to entertain?

I will readily admit that I don't know what will happen in this year's election.  There seems to me to be a lot of uncertainty about what actually motivates people at the ballot box.  Why is it that the pundits in general, and Brooks in particular, think they know more than they actually do?

Not that long ago Brooks wrote a column called No, Not Trump, Not Ever.  In that piece he said.

Moreover, many in the media, especially me, did not understand how they would express their alienation. We expected Trump to fizzle because we were not socially intermingled with his supporters and did not listen carefully enough. For me, it’s a lesson that I have to change the way I do my job if I’m going to report accurately on this country.

Why doesn't Brooks take his own advice?  We'd all be a lot better off if he did. 

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