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“Fear Of A Female Administration? We’ll See”: Who Second-Guesses A Ticket With Two Men?

Is America ready for a two-woman presidential ticket?

It certainly seems the Clinton campaign is considering the question. Hillary Clinton has made a high profile public appearance recently with Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. They clicked so well that the Washington Post called them the “it” couple of Democratic politics.

At a rally in Ohio, Sen. Warren spoke with her customary sassy brilliance as Clinton looked on warmly. Warren for weeks has taken to Twitter to aim her quick wit and sharp invective at the presumptive GOP nominee, Donald Trump. She showed she can play the role of the mean girl against the bully. She goaded Trump for his “goofy” hat, his simplistic sloganeering and his elite birth. Women cheered at the display of saucy sisterhood.

The public display of friendship seems to be a trial balloon, and many wondered when it would be burst by the pinprick of reality.

Two women? Could voters possibly be progressive enough to support such an estrogen-heavy ticket?

Some turned the question around: Who second-guesses a ticket with two men? Nobody, because we’ve been doing it that way for centuries.

True. But sexism is a fact of American politics. It will be front and center with Trump in the presidential race. The man cannot shape-shift into a gentleman no matter how much the GOP establishment works to improve him.

The unsettling reality is that Donald Trump can get elected to the White House by being a jerk. Hillary Clinton cannot.

Voters need to like female candidates more than they do male candidates. They can dislike a man running for office and still regard him as qualified and electable.

Likeability is not a litmus test for men. It tends to be for women, according to research by Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster. And many people, even Democratic-leaning women, do not like Clinton all that much.

Another finding is that voters seldom think that woman candidate wins a debate with a male opponent. That might have something to do with assumptions about presentation — how a man can be viewed as tough and strong, whereas a woman with similar posturing will be viewed in a negative light. A man is still the model for what people view as a politician. Both genders tend to be more questioning of the qualifications of female candidates.

The 2016 presidential race exemplifies this. The idea that a virtual political nobody like Trump can be held on the same plane as a person like Clinton, with a long and distinguished record of public service, is offensive.

These are the unfair headwinds Hillary Clinton has to face.

Yet there are promising signs for her. Eighty percent of unmarried women support Clinton, according to polls, and she has a substantial lead among women voters generally. In fact, 2016 will be the first time that a majority of vote-eligible women are projected to be unmarried. Those numbers could easily turn the election in all states, according to Celinda Lake.

But alas, polling can only predict so much. Lake emphasizes that demography is not destiny. Voters have to turn out.

To some extent, this campaign can be about challenging sexism. But it would be foolish to underestimate the extent to which such bias persists and will motivate voters.

The same goes even if Clinton wins the White House. Women and girls will not suddenly be viewed as equals and treated with respect any more than African-Americans felt racial bias and discrimination lift from their lives with the election of Barack Obama. In fact, racism became in many ways more overt after Obama was inaugurated. One need only consider the widespread belief among white Republicans that Obama has divided the nation racially. (No, his presence in the White House just held the mirror up to America.)

Sexism will be similar for Clinton. It’s dying, slowly. Women are certainly far better off in work and home life than they were decades ago. But gender bias affects women and girls every minute of the day — in subtle digs, unrecognized effects of long-held beliefs as well as blatant verbal attacks. It’s not fair. It’s not right. But it is America, 2016. And it will impact the election.

Lake has another prediction: When the big money gets out and civility returns to American politics, you’ll see more women running for office. And more women candidates may also bring out more women voters.

The problem is that we are not there yet. We live in a time when Donald Trump can be seriously considered as a candidate to lead the greatest nation on Earth. We clearly have work to do.


By:Mary Sanchez, Opinion-Page Columnist for The Kansas City Star; The National Memo, July 2, 2016

July 3, 2016 Posted by | Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton, Women in Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Why The GOP Has Grown So Hostile”: Republicans Have Crossed The Rubicon And No Longer Have The Option Of Going Back

Pew Research surveyed 35,071 Americans between June and September of 2014 and compiled information about their religious and political beliefs. One of their findings was that white Christians no longer constitute a majority in this country. Another finding was that a political gap among white Christians has widened during Obama’s presidency.

Nearly seven in 10 white Christians — 69 percent — identify with or lean toward the GOP, while just 31 percent do the same with Democrats…

…In less than a decade, the gap in Christian identification between Democrats and Republicans has increased by 50 percent. According to the data presented, in 2007, 88 percent of white Republicans and 70 percent of white Democrats identified as Christian, an 18-point disparity. By 2014, 84 percent of white Republicans identified as Christian, but the share of white Democrats identifying as Christian fell by 13 points, to 57 percent, a 27-point gap.

Despite these changes, some things have been remarkably stable. For example, separate research by Pew shows that party preference among whites has been nearly identical in the last three elections: (2010: 37D 60R, 2012: 39D 59R, 2014: 38D 60R).

That 59% Republican number from 2012 serves as the baseline for the popular vote calculator used at Latino Decisions. You can play around with the racial and turnout variables to see how small changes can alter the outcome of our presidential elections. This doesn’t account for the Electoral College, of course, but the popular vote predicts the winner most of the time, doesn’t it?

One thing you’ll discover is that if the white percentage of the vote comes in as predicted at 70.5% and the Republicans continue to get 59% of the white vote and other ethnic groups’ preferences and turnout hold constant then the GOP candidate will need about 47% of the Latino vote in order to win the popular vote. It’s actually worse than this because the calculator assumes that without Obama at the top of the ticket, the Republican will get 12% of the black vote rather than the 6% Romney received.

More statistically significant, however, is the fact that Romney only received an estimated 27% of the Latino vote in 2012. So, here’s what this looks like for the Republicans. If they can double the percentage of black votes they got in 2012 and do 20% better among Latinos, they can win the popular vote without doing any better (or worse) with white voters.

Numbers like these are daunting, and they explain why the Republican National Committee’s post-2012 Growth and Opportunity Report (better known as “The Autopsy Report”) determined that passing comprehensive immigration reform was an absolute prerequisite for them having any chance of winning the presidency in 2016. This is why the Senate Republicans made it a top priority in 2013 and ultimately passed a bill in a bipartisan 68-32 vote that included 14 members of their caucus.

I don’t think I need to belabor this point, but what happened next is not going to help the eventual Republican nominee improve twenty points on Romney’s performance with Latinos. If Donald Trump is their nominee, I think he’ll be fortunate to get half the Latino votes that Romney gathered.

Now, here’s the important point.

Since the Republicans didn’t pursue the easier path of improving their popularity with Latinos, they have no choice to jack up that 59% number they got with whites. Let’s look at how much they’ll need.

Using the other Latino Decisions assumptions, if the GOP gets 27% of the Latino vote, they’ll need 62% of the white vote to win the popular vote. If they get only 13% of the Latino vote, they need 64% of the white vote to win the popular vote. And, again, both of these predictions assume that the GOP will double their support in the black community and also not lose any Asian or “Other” voters.

It’s probably a lot easier to get new voters from a group that is generally opposed to you than it is to keep adding voters to a group you’re dominating. In other words, it might be an easier task for the Republicans to get back to the 40-plus percent Latino support that George W. Bush once enjoyed than to grow their white support from 59% to 64%.

But it’s the latter strategy (if we can call it a strategy) that the Republicans are pursuing. They need to racially polarize the electorate in a way that gets them 3-5% more of the white vote.

They can do some of this through turnout instead, of course, so if they can keep lots of blacks and Latinos from voting in the first place, they don’t need to improve quite so much with whites.

I think what’s key to understanding this situation is that the Republicans actually have crossed the Rubicon and they no longer have the option of going back and pursuing more of the Latino vote. They must pursue more of the white vote and there are not too many ways to do that other than aggravating racial consciousness and jacking up the sense of white racial grievance.

This has been a mainstay of conservative/Republican electoral strategy since at least the time that Nixon pursued the Southern Strategy, but I doubt that it’s ever been this much of an urgent and indispensable part of their path to success.

So, we’re seeing two things: a revival of open racism that had been dormant on the presidential campaign trail, and continued efforts to suppress the minority vote. These aren’t really choices anymore. They can’t win any other way.

The only alternative (which is no longer available in this cycle) is for some adults to take back control of the Republican Party from the Conservative Movement. As long as the conservatives are in control and refuse to change, these incredibly unpleasant electoral strategies will only get more pronounced and dangerous.

What the poll numbers at the top tell us, though, is that the religious angle is an important and (it looks to be) successful way for the GOP to ramp up the racial polarization in the electorate. It’s just as important to them to cultivate a mass sense of victimhood among white Christians (e.g., gay wedding cakes, Starbucks coffee cups, War on Christmas, Sharia Law) as it is to talk about blacks and Latinos just wanting a handout.

So, expect a lot more of this.


By: Martin Longman, Web Editor for the Washington Monthly; Political Animal Blog, November 23, 2015

November 25, 2015 Posted by | GOP, Voter Suppression, White Voters | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Thugification of Ben Carson”: He Want’s Something Of A “Hood Pass”, An Acknowledgement Of His Toughness Authenticity

Ben Carson might well be the “Rick Ross” of presidential politics.

In no small irony, the retired neurosurgeon—much like the chart-topping rapper— is under fire for allegedly misleading the public about parts of his life story. Ross, also known as “Teflon Da Don,” was never the thugged-out, gun-toting, cocaine-slanging street menace that so often shows up in his lyrics. Instead, he was a college-educated corrections officer before he turned to the music industry to make his millions.

Carson’s exaggerations don’t go that far—his tales are far more pedestrian. But in story after story the iconic physician appears to embellish his life growing up in inner city Detroit. He certainly did not need to spin wild tales about his years as a young, gifted black boy raised by a single mother in urban America. That’s a story millions know and can relate to.

However, in various books, speeches and interviews, Carson appears to want something of a “hood pass”—an acknowledgement of his toughness authenticity—that functions both as insulation from “liberal media attacks” and as political currency among white Republican voters. The lure of a Carson candidacy (as I said in an earlier column) could not be more appealing to the evangelical base, which has been looking for a way to attract more non-white voters. For them, Carson is the perfect ambassador: an American success story who also happens to be black, and the quintessential Horatio Alger from the rough side of the railroad tracks.

For his part, Carson is playing along and seemingly has been for decades. He has leaned on (and sometimes added flourishes to) his backstory in order to expand his public platform. The truth is he has been building a personal narrative—whether true or weaved from whole cloth—about himself from the moment he leapt onto the world stage. He wasn’t just poor, in Carson’s telling, he was hard—the kind of hard that can get an otherwise promising young man into trouble. And while it might be customary in hip-hop, engaging in this kind of self “thugification” is new for politics.

Without a doubt, Carson grew up surrounded by pervasive poverty, and avoiding a myriad of societal maladies in the Motor City was no small feat. For every Ben Carson, there are thousands of black boys who didn’t make it to the sunrise—the ones whose mothers watched tearfully as they left the block cuffed in the back of a squad car or wept over their bodies in a funeral home. Carson more than beat the odds. The bookish kid with thick glasses and a pocket protector earned his way into Yale and went on to become one of the world’s most celebrated surgeons.

Today, based almost solely on that story, Carson is currently leading national polls for the Republican presidential nomination. However, in recent days, key elements—as told by Carson himself— have come under increased scrutiny.

To hear the good doctor tell it, he once tried to stab a “close relative” in a dispute over a radio and at another point he wanted to hit his mother in the head with a brick. He allegedly hurled a rock at a school friend, busting his glasses and leaving him with a bloody nose. If fact, if Carson can be believed, he was so violent that he needed a divine intervention.

It’s a compelling story—one that has sold millions of books, led to a biopic about his life, and earned him countless awards over the years. The problem is almost none of its flourishes ring true and, despite the earnest efforts of reporters, almost none of them can be verified. As it turns out, CNN could find no one—not even the next-door neighbor kids—who could remember a young, hot-tempered Carson, let alone one who tried to murder somebody.

Then there was the time that he was allegedly held at gunpoint in Baltimore while out on a chicken run to a local Popeye’s restaurant near Johns Hopkins Hospital. Carson says he wasn’t afraid. He’d seen enough violence, he said, that he knew the gunman wasn’t there to kill anybody. As tales go, that one smelled like a cooler full of warm catfish.

And of course it doesn’t stop there. In interview after interview, he has waxed poetically about how he overcame extraordinary odds, including personal demons, to achieve his extraordinary success. For many—black and white, alike—Carson was a living, breathing Heathcliff Huxtable.

Carson has staked his credibility on more than just his heroics in the operating room. He regaled us with Ricky Rozay-styled street stories that served to deepen his public policy bona fides and ingratiate him with working and middle class white audiences. But frankly, Carson never needed any proof of his “blackness” and certainly not an ill-advised campaign radio commercial featuring a rap song.

In fact, Carson may be the first presidential candidate in modern history who stands to lose some credibility because he was a goody two-shoes coming up. He is certainly the first frontrunner in my lifetime to admit to attempted murder. I’ve been on this planet nearly 50 years and I cannot recall a serious candidate for office who readily admits—or, for that matter, insists—that he wanted to pummel his own mother in the head with a brick.

Stripped down to its essence, without the auto-tuning and layered tracks, Carson has a powerful story. Unfortunately, it feels like he thinks he has something to prove about who he is and where he came from. Most unfortunately, based on the kinds of stories he has chosen to hype, it appears he has a skewed perspective of what it means to be black.

He should remember that he’s running for president, not selling mix tapes in a barbershop.


By: Goldie Taylor, The Daily Beast, November 7, 2015

November 8, 2015 Posted by | Ben Carson, Black Americans, White Voters | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments


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