Politics

Was Hillary’s gender really the cause for her downfall?

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Over at repptide, we’ve been taking the pulse of public opinion on a number of political issues.

So when Hillary Clinton started making claims that it was sexism that was to blame for her campaign’s second-place showing, we wanted to see if she was right or if there were other factors that could have explained her disappointing finish. The following questions and subsequent responses provide some interesting insight:

Question 1. Would you vote for a woman for President?

(Regardless of political affiliation, could you see yourself voting for a female presidential candidate?)

Out of 402 votes, 346 replied ‘yes’ – meaning 85.9% of respondents would vote for a candidate regardless of gender. Fair enough, maybe Hillary is onto something, given a slight bias against voting a woman into the top political office.

But what about Obama? Does his being African-American provide a similar handicap given some people’s desires to vote along certain racial preferences?

Question 2. Would you vote for a black man for President?

(Regardless of political affiliation, could you see yourself voting for a black presidential candidate?)

389 out of 434 members, 89.4%, said that they would vote for someone regardless of their race. A similar bias against Obama exists, as suspected, but one slightly less pronounced than voting on the basis of gender. So far, a slight comparative bias exists to support Clinton’s claim. But is a 3.5% (statistically insignificant) difference in biases really enough to explain the massive swing in voter preference to the Obama camp?

If it’s not race or gender that’s really setting the two candidates significantly apart, what could it be? The next two questions tell the tale:

Question 3. Do you think Barack Obama is honest?

Out of 1014 votes, 680 members, 67%, think Obama is honest. Not bad for a politician. To compare, George W. Bush clocks in at 22.8%, and McCain at 43.3%. What about Hillary?

Question 4. Do you think Hillary Rodham Clinton is honest?

Out of 1030 votes, only 268, or 26% think Hillary is honest. That puts the public perception of her honesty only slightly above George W. Bush. Think about that. There is a 40% chasm separating the perceived honesty of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. It’s not sexism, it’s not racism, Hillary. It’s your honesty, or perceived lack of it.