When Texas' newspapers released a poll last week on the then-current state of the race, one number caught the eyes of a couple reporters: the fact that Rick Perry had a 10-point lead among women in Texas. It made me scratch my head in disbelief. As Seth Myers and Amy Poehler love to say, “REALLY!?!?”
The Statesman was the first one to report on the numbers, in their story, “Perry's lead among women bucks trend”:
“Perry is doing extraordinarily well among women,” said Mickey Blum, whose firm, Blum & Weprin Associates Inc., conducted a poll on behalf of the American-Statesman and other newspapers. She said that in years of polling in Texas, this might be the first time she's seen more women than men backing the Republican.
The poll found that 50 percent of women who are likely voters prefer Perry, while 40 percent prefer White. Overall, 46 percent of likely voters picked Perry and 39 percent liked White, the poll said.
That one poll, absolutely, shows Perry with a lead. But an analysis of ten polls released since May suggest that the newspaper's findings, while not unique, do not fit the actual “trend” of women’s support in the Texas Governor’s race. Here is a look at whom women have supported in ten previous polls where crosstabs were available:
||% Women for Perry||% Women for White
|TX Tribune||9/3 – 9/8||34||34|
Newspapers, by relying
solely heavily on their poll and not making note of what all these other polls have reported, may be not providing the full context on this particular story. I would love to see their full crosstabs so I could better understand if they over-sampled or under-sampled any one population.
Peggy Fikac, writing in the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News, discussed whether or not Perry's looks could be a factor:
No, really, women aren’t any more shallow than men.
When a poll by a group of newspapers including the San Antonio Express-News/Houston Chronicle showed that about 50 percent of women likely to vote favor GOP Gov. Rick Perry — compared to 40 percent for Democratic challenger Bill White – some called it a testament to Perry's looks.
Ladies — are you voting for Rick Perry because he's super dreamy? (Rachel, I expect a weigh-in on this one!)
Fikac dismisses the looks argument, saying it is “a bit annoying.” She also, though, pointed out how men seem to be showing a reverse trend this year:
The interesting part, in the face of all that GOP interest, is what's happening with the men.
Of likely voters in the poll by Blum & Weprin Associates Inc., men and women gave the GOP “an equal edge,” noted pollster Mickey Blum: Women were 52 percent Republican or leaning Republican (compared to 34 percent Democratic) and the split among men was 48/31 GOP to Democratic.
I'll try to find the crosstabs for men later — I had this chart together before Fikac's story ran. In the mean time, I hope this conversation adds more context to the stories we've seen pop up to date, and lets everyone see that in this crazy election year, it is best to look at a larger context if you're searching for trends.
Finally, I also wanted to emphasize one strong voice on this — from Rachel Farris, who wasn't commenting on this poll, but on the larger national trend in her post, The Princess and the Poll:
Perhaps the reason independent and Democratic women aren’t “revved” up is because they actually have something known as “brains” in between their ears. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist — or for that matter, a recent college graduate who can’t find a job — to take a look around and see that while Sarah Palin’s daughter does the cha-cha and enchants the hearts of millions, Sarah Palin’s tea party is busy imprinting the minds of the remainder. And with the most prominent, popular female “leaders” splashed on TV in the neverending news cycle being Palin and O’Donnell, who in their right mind would be revved up by them?
So what will it take? Well, here’s what keeps me up at night — maybe it’ll give you nightmares, too: You never really know how much someone's willing to fight for something until it gets taken away from them. Put that under your pillow and sleep on it.