You won’t find out from Rachel: Tuesday night, we watched Rachel Maddow report Terry McAuliffe’s win in Virginia.
As she did, she repeated a peculiar claim three times: “the Beltway press” had been mystified by the gender gap which appeared in Virginia polling. They just couldn't figure it out!
For details, see yesterday’s post.
That claim seemed highly unlikely to us. As it turned out, Maddow never provided any examples. But as Maddow spoke on Election Night, we were puzzled by the relatively small gender gap which was being displayed on the screen.
There was a gender gap in Virginia, but it turned out to be substantially less than the gap which had been predicted. As it turned out, McAuliffe won among female voters by nine points, 51-42. He lost male voters by three points, 48-45.
That’s a gender gap—but in the Washington Post’s final poll, McAuliffe was winning female voters by a walloping 24 points, while losing male voters by one. That poll produced a lot of commentary in the last days of the race.
Anyone can get a poll wrong, of course. But much of that margin had gone away as Maddow announced the outcome on Tuesday night.
Weird! As Maddow spoke, a chyron showed McAuliffe winning female voter by only eight points. We were puzzled by the narrow margin. But Maddow never noted that this was less than polling had indicated.
Last night, it seemed to us that she buried the info again. Here’s what happened:
When you analyze the Virginia voting by race, a rather strange thing occurs. It turns out that Ken Cuccinelli actually won the white female vote. And he won it by a very large margin, 54-38.
How did McAuliffe manage to win the overall female vote? Easy! Black women favored him overwhelmingly, 91-7.
For the exit poll figures, click here.
In close elections, white voters almost always favor the GOP. Black voters typically vote Democratic by roughly 90 percent.
Still, it’s a bit surprising to see that large white female vote for Cuccinelli, given his throwback views about reproductive rights. Plus Governor Ultrasound, whose nickname “really caught on.”
Luckily, viewers of Maddow’s show won’t have to ponder that white female vote. Rachel went right ahead on Tuesday night as if nothing had happened to McAuliffe’s predicted margin among woman voters.
As of last night, nothing had changed. She told the inspiring story of the Virginia women’s vote in this peculiar fashion:
MADDOW (11/6/13): The overall margin of victory for Democrat Terry McAuliffe over Republican Ken Cuccinelli in the governor`s race was three points. But when you break out the exit polling, it was the gender gap that really gave McAuliffe the win.Rachel went to tell us about Cuccinelli’s horrible record. But do you see what happened there?
He took the Virginia lady vote overall by nine points, 51-42. He took the African-American vote by an astonishing 84-point margin. It was 91-7 among African-American women in Virginia.
But we kind of knew it was coming. The pre-election polling foretold both the win for Terry McAuliffe and the big problem for the Republican candidate with women voters specifically. Ken Cuccinelli is a life-long and crusading social conservative activist.
We the rubes were allowed to hear about McAuliffe's astonishing margin among black female voters, which wasn't all that astonishing. (In 2009, black women supported the Democratic candidate for governor, 90-10. For that exit poll, click here.)
We got to learn about that astonishing, feel-good vote. But the depressing vote by all those white women somehow got disappeared.
We viewers weren’t told what white women did. Keeping it simple, Rachel told us that “the lady vote” had given McAuliffe the win.
That seemed kind of silly and fun. “We kind of knew it was coming!”
Technically, none of that was false! But increasingly, Maddow’s program is becoming an hour of feel-good tribal propaganda and highly selective information. Last night, it happened again:
We got to hear what black women did. White women got disappeared.
That white women’s vote seems newsworthy to us, if a bit depressing. It seems to us that Maddow was keeping her viewers barefoot and clueless—again.
So it tends to goes on this declining program. Was this perhaps another case of Us behaving like Them?
How big was the gender gap: In some instances, different people mean different things by the term “gender gap.”
Traditionally, that term refers to the difference in the way men and women vote in a given election. If we use that definition, there was no real gender gap among Virginia's black voters.
Black men favored McAuliffe, 90-10. Among black women, the margin was similar, 91-7.
Among white voters, there actually was a gender gap. White women favored Cuccinelli by 16 points. White men favored him by a larger 25-point margin, 58-33.
Especially given all the hype, that white female vote seems striking to us. Good news! If you keep watching the Maddow show, you won’t have to be told!