White women
04
Jan

Political reporting erases Americans of color

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Raise your hand if you’ve heard some variation on the phrase, “if not for the (black vote/hispanic vote) X candidate would have lost.” This is usually used when a Democrat wins. It’s bad enough when you hear it from a Republican operative. But when you hear it from a supposedly neutral analyst on CNN or elsewhere, it makes you want to say, “well, should we then make Black people’s vote worth 2/3rds?”

Now comes the latest round of polling about the supremely unqualified Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanagh. (I’m using that descriptor based on what the ABA and 1,700 legal scholars are saying, just in case you think I’m being hyper partisan.)

In the past week since Kavanagh’s off the rails performance, we’ve been treated to several polls saying that Americans are divided on him. Well, sure, Americans are deeply divided about many things. That’s nothing new, although it appears that the chasm is getting deeper. CNN reports that 48 percent of voters say they tend to believe Ford, while 41 percent believe Kavanaugh. What they and other sources miss in covering that Quinnipiac polling was that there are deep racial divides in how people viewed Kavanaugh.

The Root noticed this omission:

Those results would reveal that 83 percent of black and 66 percent of Latinx voters believe Blasey Ford, compared to a mere 40 percent of white voters. And that 80 percent of black and 69 percent of Latinx voters considered her honest compared to just 54 percent of white voters.

This gap persists even when you isolate out white women, a demographic some pundits believed would be outraged at how Blasey Ford was treated by Senate Republicans (her testimony—deemed “credible” by Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee—was essentially thrown out once Kavanaugh began rage-crying).

According to the Quinnipiac poll, nearly half (47 percent) of white women considered Kavanaugh to be honest. The numbers for black and Latinx voters? Just 7 percent and 34 percent, respectively. A plurality of white women did believe Blasey Ford (46 percent)—but it was nowhere near the majority, as was the case with black and Latinx voters.

Parsing out this data matters, because if journalists don’t, they can misleadingly run with narratives like the one in a recent article from the AP, which boldly declared in the headline: “Many women line up in support for Kavanaugh.”

No. Many WHITE women line up in support for Kavanagh. Although, when you look at the actual polling, “many” white women seems to be a bit of a stretch for what is actually less than half.

Here’s another, more nuanced take on how race and gender may play out in the upcoming midterm elections, under the shadow of the Kavanagh confirmation. From the Atlantic:

For more than 40 years, college-educated white women have formed a substantive bloc for the GOP, the key constituency in establishing the party’s hold on suburbs and exurbs across the country. Indeed, the modern conservative movement was built, in part, by the very type of women who may now be fleeing the Republican Party. 

For decades, many women may have seen little difference between the two parties when it came to sexual misconduct, allowing them to prioritize other concerns. Now there’s a bright line.

On Thursday, during a break in Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony, a woman called out to Senator Lindsey Graham that she had been raped in the past. “I’m so sorry,” Graham responded as he ducked into an elevator. “You needed to tell the cops.”

Such casual indifference to women’s mistreatment is visible not only in the Republicans’ endorsement of Kavanaugh, but also in the party’s general dismissal of the #MeToo movement and the president’s obvious sympathy for accused men over accusing women.

The Atlantic article focuses on white women. Because they take for granted what has been shown in poll after poll: women of color, whether young or old, married or single, are solidly against the GOP.

(photo: Zach Gibson, Getty Images)