Many were surprised when white women voted for Donald Trump in 2016, but they shouldn’t have been.
Although women in general tend to vote for Democrats, white women have voted Republican regularly since the 1950s, a fact that may have been hidden by traditional voter analysis that establishes white men as the default group.
“When you use white men as a standard, it’s clear that women look like super Democrats, because white men are disproportionately much more Republican,” says Jane Junn, a professor of political science and gender and sexuality studies at Southern University. California.
“When you use this category as a reference category from which everything else is analyzed, you can’t see this pattern of white female support for Republicans, and Trump in particular, and the same goes for ”.
Voters are waiting in line to vote during the midterm election in the Brooklyn district of New York City on November 6, 2018.
Junn has co-authored an article suggesting that the analysis of voting behavior that interprets women’s outcomes as a deviation from patterns set by men is obsolete and hides voters ’true preference.
In terms of voter analysis, the default group is traditionally the largest voting group. And while women outnumber men — and have done so since the 1960s — male white voters remain the norm against which all other voting groups compare.
“It violates what we would normally do when we use statistics to interpret group-based behavior, that is, it incorrectly identifies the modal group. … Mode means only the most numerous group, and men — particularly white men — do not. “They’re the biggest group of voters in the United States,” says Junn. also at the local level “.
In 2020, 68% of women eligible to vote reported voting, compared to 65% of turnout in men. In the 2016 presidential election, 63% of women and 59% of men declared to vote.
In terms of race and gender, 69.6% of white women reported voting, compared to 67% of white men in 2020. While in 2016, 66.8% of white women and 63 , 7% of white men declared to vote.
The women hear then-President Donald Trump speak at a rally in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on October 26, 2020.
Junn says the white-focused approach to men in voter analysis is limiting because it does not take into account the dynamic nature of the electorate.
“The lookout encourages us to think in static terms,” he says. “It encourages us to think about behavior only in terms of the past, or mostly in terms of the past, and it encourages us to think that things are stable.”
Rethinking how votes are analyzed requires undoing centuries of conditioning, says Ashley Koning, director of the Eagleton Public Interest Survey Center at Rutgers University.
“What is the modal group? What is the rule? What is the ideal within the political sphere? Koning asked. “The political sphere has always been synonymous with masculine and masculine, and I think it takes a long time to change, topple and evolve from something like that.”
Marygrace Vadala has a political poster in support of now President Joe Biden away from home in Archbald, Pennsylvania, on October 28, 2020.
Setting white men as the normal standard by which everyone else is compared can mean that anything other than her is abnormal or deviant, according to Junn.
“Why do we still say, you know, the senator from Kentucky, but we have to say the senator from West Virginia? Or presidential candidate Joe Biden and Black female vice presidential candidate? ”Says Junn. “Modifiers are always linked to categories that are unusual or different.”
“You are creating a very specific framework through which you see the political system which, frankly, may not be the beneficial or more beneficial framework for the public good and the advancement of society.”
He thinks it will take many more election cycles to break the historical habit of painting men as a modal group.
“This discussion has risen in level in the classroom. I think this discussion extends within gender studies and women in policy programs. I don’t know if this discussion has really reached a general level, “says Koning.” I don’t think it’s a conversation that’s being kept at the forefront, even after all of this, even after all these decades. ”