Why Obama lost in PA: gender bias

If you look at the exit polls on CNN, they classify who voted and how they voted.

They have lots of categories (age, race, church attendance, etc), but the most basic and simplest category is gender

       Voter Gender        Who they voted for
                            Clinton    Obama
       Male    41%            48%       52%
       Female  59%            57%       43%

Based on the above, Clinton got 0.4148 + 0.5957% = 53.9%, and Obama got 0.4152% + 0.5943% = 46.7%, so these exit poll numbers are fairly close to the final result.

The numbers clearly show that women were much more gender-biased than men.
Men only slightly favored the male candidate (52% to 48%), while women strongly favored the female candidate (57% to 43%).

That alone would have put Clinton over the top, even if equal numbers of men and women voted. (it would have resulted in 52.5% for Clinton and 47.5% for Obama)

But, in addition to that, more women came out and voted (by a large margin: 59% to 41%), thus ensuring the large gap we saw in PA.

By the way, given the strong gender-bias of women voters in PA, men would have had to come out in record numbers to vote (77.8% men vs 22.2% women) in order for Obama to come out ahead.

So, while all the pundits and people here on the SDMB are trying to explain “why Obama couldn’t close the gap in PA” using complex analysis, it seems to simply be the strong gender bias and strong turnout of female voters (at least in PA)



That is an unsurprising correlation. That is about the most that can be said here.

Demographics drive this race. Gender and race play big roles. If you go to the US Census and take the percentage of black population per state in the 2000 census, then compare them to the results of the primaries/caucuses, you get some interesting results.

There are 20 states with black populations less than 5%. Obama has won 13 (ID, ME, VT, ND, WY, UT, IA, HI, WA, MN, AK, CO, and NE) Hillary has won 3 (NH, AZ, NM). Four remain (MT, SD, OR, and WV).

There are 21 states with black populations between 5% and 20%. Hillary has won 12 (RI, CA, MA, NV, OK, PA, TX, OH, NJ, AR, TN, and NY) Obama has won 5 (WI, KS, CT, MO, and IL). Two remain (KY and IN), while MI and FL are out of it.

There are 9 states plus DC with black populations > 20%. Obama has won them all except NC hasn’t voted yet (DE, VA, AL, MD, GA, SC, LA, MS, and DC)
If we make a rule that Hillary wins when the black population is more than 5% but less than 20%, and Obama wins when it is <5% or >20%, it predicts accurately 34 times, is inaccurate 8 times, 7 states are still pending and 2 states are out.

Gender is a significant factor, in my opinion, but not as significant as race.

Don’t go there, Polerius, unless you want to claim that Obama only wins because of racial bias. Also, note that your link does not contain complete info on racial breakdown-- there is no data for how Blacks voted except in the 45-49 year old category, and Clinton got a whopping 15% of that vote.

The thing is, are women voting for Hillary because she’s a woman, or are men voting for Obama because he’s a man? You really can’t tell either way from the data.

The fact that the men split almost evenly means nothing. Maybe if the men were completely unbiased they would have gone for Hillary 55 to 45. Maybe it was purely their gender bias against the woman that swung the numbers so they look almost equal.

The OP represents a common error – the white male vote is taken as the norm and the votes of women or blacks or hispanics are taken as the special case. You see this in arguments that run alone the lines of “Obama wouldn’t be winning if it weren’t for the black vote.” Well, yes. But so what? Hillary would already be out of the race if it weren’t for the white vote.

Let’s go there.

I think we should discuss these issues, instead of trying to figure out who won solely based on their position on topic X or what lies/exaggerations/gaffes they committed during the campaign.

IIRC the number I saw from exit polls was that around 90% of blacks voted for Obama, so I definitely agree that race is a factor and helps Obama win some states. (Here is a link to NYT exit polls that confirms that number)

One difference, though, is that blacks only made up about 13-15% of the voters, whereas women made up 58%, so racial bias does not have as much potential to influence the final result as gender bias does

[aside]An interesting piece of information that we get from the CNN exit polls is that, among whites the percent who vote for Clinton decreases with age.
The percentages are 68%, 63%, 58%, 52% for ages >60, 45-59, 30-44, 18-29, respectively.

That is, for the youngest cohort, it is getting close to 50-50, which means they are color-blind when it comes to selecting a president, which is very promising for the future (unless people get more race-biased as they age)

I’m not sure this is the case, because I don’t have all the data, but based on the above data and the fact that a lot of voters in PA don’t have a college degree, and those voters were heavily biased towards Clinton, I think the following may be going on: People with college education are more gender-blind and color-blind, and people with no college education are more gender-biased and color-biased.

And since PA has a high number with no college degree, the racial bias of the whites and the gender bias of the females pushed Clinton to have such a high margin in PA.

It would be good to have more data, to see if indeed gender and race bias is correlated with college education.

Or, maybe, gender bias by males made the election CLOSER than it would have been otherwise. Why are you assuming that the women are biased but the men aren’t?

OK, but you are not going to get at peoples’ reasons for voting the way they did. There is no norm to compare to, as **Pachocco **noted above. You can’t say that a certain percentage would’ve voted differently if only <insert whatever change you can think of here>. There are just too many other variables in play.

Well, first off, there’s the data.

As I said in the OP: “Men only slightly favored the male candidate (52% to 48%), while women strongly favored the female candidate (57% to 43%).”

In this particular election (white woman vs black man) the above makes sense: white males are sort of torn between their gender bias (towards Obama) and their racial bias (towards Clinton), so it evens out, to a degree.

White women, on the other hand, have the gender bias and racial bias working in the same direction, so it adds up, and that’s why you see the 57% to 43% for women. (since white women constitute a large fraction of all women voters)

Why do you assume that the vote should be split evenly in the first place? Maybe women are smarter than men at understanding the issues. Or maybe they are less smart. There is no way to say why any given voter should’ve voted a certain way.

I’d assume that it was likely that people would be more likely to choose a candidate of their own gender, and more likely to choose a candidate of their own race or ethnic background. Exactly how much would be determined by surveys like the one cited. And it seems that race is the most important influence, because black voters so strongly preferred the black candidate, while white voters were very roughly 50-50.

Perhaps that’s a good thing, perhaps not, but one thing that it suggests is that, although race is a factor, it’s not working against Obama – rather, it may be working in his favour with a significant group of voters. Similarly, it could be argued that gender is working in Clinton’s favour, though not to the same extent.

If anyone finds this surprising, they don’t know much about human nature.

I agree with the others that your assumptions need to be checked before you draw conclusions from these stats.

Your main problematic assumption is that in an objective world, Obama and Hillary should get half of each demographic group’s votes. Not necessarily so. The objective observer’s eye may see Obama as the better candidate. Or Hillary. There’s no rational reason to assume that these candidates are truly equal. If Hillary is truly the better candidate, and yet white men are supporting Obama in spite of her true superiority, then you can’t assume they are less gender-biased than white women. The latter just may be more adept at seeing her brilliance than the former because they are saddled with less gender-bias. You just can’t say what’s going on without more info.

The same logic applies to blacks voting for Obama. Blacks may be more inclined to vote for Obama because they want to put a black man in office. Or they may be more adept at seeing his brilliance than whites are because they are less racially biased against Obama.

Good point.

Overall, I agree that more data would be needed to prove the point, but here are some indicators that 50-50 should be the default (in this particular election) for someone with no gender or race bias
[li]Their positions on issues are very similar, so it stands to reason that, barring any personality issues, people should be divided between the two 50-50. And given that Obama is considered more popular personality-wise and Clinton has several people who intensely hate her personality, it makes sense that Obama should actually be a bit ahead.[/li]
[li] As mentioned in one of my previous posts above, the data shows that as you go to younger age cohorts, the racial bias among whites almost vanishes. Which again seems to point to the fact that people with no bias will be distributed 50-50 between the two candidates.[/li][/ul]

Good point.

Overall, I agree that more data would be needed to prove the point, but here are some indicators that 50-50 should be the default for someone with no gender or race bias
[li]Their positions on issues are very similar, so it stands to reason that, barring any personality issues…[/ul][/li][/QUOTE]

But there are significant differences in their personalities, so I don’t accept that we should disregard that.

But, as I mentioned above, Obama seems to have an edge on the personality front, so if there is any imbalance from 50-50, it should go Obama’s way, for someone who is otherwise unbiased (gender or race-wise)

Well you’d assume wrong, at least as regards black voters. Seems they were overwhelmingly supporting Hillary Clinton early in the race, when Barack Obama was a relatively unknown entity, only coming around to him gradually as he started to actively campaign and get his message out. Statistically, he has closed the gap between early polling and end results in every state he’s campaigned in throughout this race.

You can’t have both

[li]If Hillary is truly the better candidate, according to some objective criteria, then blacks are exhibiting racial bias by leaning heavily towards Obama[/li][li]If Obama is truly the better candidate, then women are exhibiting gender bias by leaning heavily towards Clinton[/li][li]If neither is truly the better candidate, then we are seeing both gender and race bias at work[/li][/ul]

Basically, the data shows that we are witnessing either gender bias, or racial bias, or both.

With the available data we cannot say that neither form of bias is at work here.

Your figures don’t compare how well the candidates were doing at the same time with black and white voters. At the time that 57% of Blacks were going for Clinton, how many Whites were going for her?

All those figures show are that:
(1) voters won’t automatically support the candidate from their race, and
(2) Obama campaigned very successfully in Pensylvania, in spite of his controversial remarks about “bitterness”.

[ul][li]If Hillary is truly the better candidate, then men are exhibiting gender bias by leaning heavily towards Obama.[/li][li]If Obama is truly the better candidate, then whites are exhibiting racial bias by leaning heavily toward Clinton.[/ul][/li]See, you keep assuming that white male voters are the norm and that other groups are biased. The truth is probably that all groups have some bias. Some women vote for Hillary because she’s a woman, but some men DON’T vote for her for the same reason. Some blacks vote for Obama because he’s black, but some whites DON’T vote for him for the same reason.

Unless you have data showing that blacks are more biased than whites or women are more biased than men, it proves nothing.

Like the OP, you may be assuming things that shouldn’t be assumed, and in doing so, using race and gender to support a preconceived belief that isn’t necessarily grounded in reason.

If Hillary is, objectively speaking, a C plus candidate and Obama is a A minus candidate, then objectively speaking, Obama should have already won the primary race a long time ago. And yet he hasn’t: Hillary still has enough support to justify hanging on a while longer. Just because he’s winning by a slim margin doesn’t mean his success can be attributed to race. You could just as easily say that it’s working against him, since Hillary is still in the goddamn game.

I think it’s easy for people to glom onto the black vote and assume racial bias is work. It’s harder to do that with white votes because it happens to be split closer to 50/50, which we typically associate with fairness and impartiality. But it’s a mistake to think that way.