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Massachusetts Not Ready for a Woman?

Topics: Exit Polls , gender , Martha Coakley , Massachusetts , New Jersey 2009 , Virginia

Some consensus has emerged from Tuesday's Special Election. First, Coakley underperformed consistently. Absent consortium exit polls, but with no shortage of post-game analyses, we see Coakley underperformed not just with independents, but with the Democratic base. This debunks a common explanation for her loss--that Massachusetts simply isn't ready for a woman Senator (or Governor).

First, Coakley had the same gender gap as Obama did in Massachusetts in 2008. According to 2008 exit polls, there was a 20-point difference between Obama's advantage with women (+32) and his advantage with men (+12). Similarly, according to a post-election survey and analysis by Coakley's pollster, Coakley led by four points with women, but trailed by 16 points with men. So Coakley ran behind Obama by the same margin with both women and men.

Second, Coakley underperformed dramatically among liberal-leaning groups of women. The Lake poll shows her having a 17-point advantage with unmarried women. Nationally, Obama had a 41-point advantage with this group. According to the Lake analysis, Corzine had a larger advantage with this group, while the really underperforming Deeds had a smaller advantage. Another liberal-leaning group, college-educated women, were divided evenly between Coakley and Brown (50% for each). While there aren't public numbers for Obama among Massachusetts voters, nationally in 2008 he led by 27 points among white college-educated voters of both genders.

These figures suggest that Massachusetts sexism did not hold Coakley back, unless that sexism is as prevalent in liberal women as it is with other groups. That seems unlikely. Coakely underperformed consistently, throughout the state, and across the demographic spectrum. Campaign tactics, the mercurial nature of a special election, a volatile national climate, and the mobilization of the Republican base were sufficient to yield a Republican upset.

 

Comments
farleftandproud:

Gender did play a roll in Mass. Old puritanical traditions are clearly still hidden elements in that state. I think the Blue color towns have a lot of people who are Democrats, but not liberals. You also have the more Bohemian people in education, the arts and in progressive activism throughout the state from Boston to Lexington to Northampton.

I think what throws people off, is that Mass. doesn't really have a conservative district or district's, but these angry blue dogs, who probably voted for Obama, did not portray Coakley as a woman who was fighting for them. She did come from humble roots herself from North Adams Mass, but in her ads, she came across as an angry witch. I doubt if a Kennedy or Markey had ran they would have won.

Other blue states like Oregon, NY, and Minnesota have sections of their state that are very red, but Mass. doesn't really have that, making this an election that the Democrats took for granted and got burned.

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AySz88:

That last bit about "sexism is as prevalent in liberal women as it is with other groups" might be true if the population had been primed with exposure to the sexist stereotype close to the election. I remember an experiment (but can't seem to find a citation for it, sorry) where people primed to a stereotype had behaviors more in accordance with that stereotype, even when they themselves were part of the group being stereotyped (i.e. when rating perspective job applicants' descriptions, all participants rated those that fit the sexy secretary stereotype higher after they had recently recalled that stereotype, including women).

I don't personally think that was a factor in this race though; I haven't heard of any such priming happening in MA. But maybe I'm mistaken?

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masanf:

"Gender did play a roll in Mass."

Here we go again. Yet more ridiculous nonsense concerning this election. The Democrats and those on the left seem unwilling to admit that Brown was elected and Coakley lost because the voters rejected the agenda Coakley was pushing. Instead we get people pushing the notion that Mass. is sexist (while implying, riotously, that liberals can't be bigots) or we get idiots like Keith Olbermann claiming that a state which voted overwhelmingly for Obama is now, a year later, racist. Or we get left wing bloggers, like professional hissy fit thrower Andrew Sullivan, discussing the Boston reaction to busing three and half decades ago in order to imply that there is a racist faction in Massachusetts and that faction was solely responsible for Brown's win.


BROWN WON BECAUSE OF HIS CAMPAIGN PLATFORM, NOT BECAUSE THE VOTERS ARE DEGENERATES.

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JWilly48519:

Heh. Having been a Mass voter for a while, I reckon they have the same foibles as anywhere else...so maybe that should be "...irrespective of the voters' degree of degeneracy."

8^)

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