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Did Gender Keep Democratic Women From Winning The Presidential Primary?


The "hostile sexism" factor

Here's one more thing we know: that higher levels of sexism were associated with a greater likelihood of supporting Biden and Sanders, as well as a lower likelihood of supporting Warren.

Political scientist Brian Schaffner attempted to measure sexism by having pollsters ask Democrats if they agreed with phrases including "women are too easily offended" and "most women fail to appreciate fully all that men do for them." In a separate interview, pollsters asked those same people whom they preferred in the primary.

"There is a very strong relationship between how people responded to the questions that are meant to measure sexism and whether they were likely to vote for Elizabeth Warren," Schaffner said. "And it was the least-sexist Democratic voters who supported her the most. But her support dropped off very quickly among those who registered higher levels of sexism."

Schaffner found something similar in the 2016 general election – that there was an association between sexism, as he defined it, as well as racism – and voting for Trump. But he says that these associations mean something different in a Democratic primary.

"In a primary election, you take party out of the equation," he said. "You have a bunch of candidates who have very similar positions who are running against each other. And people tend to rely on what they can, that differentiates these candidates who otherwise look fairly similar to them. And gender is definitely one of those things."

Furthermore, while Schaffner found this correlation – and, to be clear, attempted to control for a range of factors, like ideology – his study doesn't mean that a bunch of voters walked into the voting booth with straightforwardly sexist ideas driving their votes. He recognizes that the relationship is subtler.

"I think a lot of this plays at a subconscious level for voters," he said. "They may not be really aware that the things that they think grate on them about Warren are actually things that wouldn't bother them if it was a man doing the same things."


Read entire article at NPR