A Problem with Democratic Primary Voters

A while ago, some asshole with a blog noted:

…during Democratic primary season, one of the regrettable, and possibly disastrous, realities is that many Democratic voters spend far too much time trying to guess what some voter they don’t really know–and who is probably very different from the mental construct in their heads–is going to do. It’s a problem, since many of these amateur psychologists are wildly off-base in how general election voters will choose candidates.

That serves as prelude for an excellent intereview of former Democratic congressional candidate Regina Bateson by Lyz Lenz. In the interview, they discuss how a huge problem faced by women who run for office is that Democratic primary voters believe women won’t win. Not that these respondents themselves dislike women as candidates, but they believe other voters simply won’t vote for women. Bateson (boldface mine):

I tried this strategy of listing off all these Republican women that win in more conservative districts with multiple young children. It completely did not work. People would just look at me blankly.

So then I tried facts. One of my main takeaways from being a candidate was that facts don’t matter.

I’m a very fact-oriented person, an academic, and my job is being engaged in the world of facts and needing to support arguments with evidence. But the facts about women winning didn’t work either.

I just consistently got back objections. People would argue, “Well, that’s other places. And I know people here, and I’m sure people here wouldn’t vote for a woman.” Just a very high level of confidence in their beliefs about other people’s beliefs….

You do see this in other fields and professions and aspects of society, especially when there have been patterns of discrimination in the past, people have a tendency to hold on to their kind of knowledge from the past about how others think and how others behave.

And it almost seems like people are updating their own preferences and their own views more quickly than they’re able to update their beliefs about what other people think. In the paper, I quoted some psychologists and other research on how people get stuck in the prejudices of the past and perpetuate them because they believe that they’re still true. Even if other people’s views have actually changed.

I don’t mean to underestimate the effects of all the ‘bad -isms’, but, until Democratic primary voters stop using flawed, inaccurate models of what they think voters are like, and start focusing on what they want, the Democratic Party will just keep muddling along.

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1 Response to A Problem with Democratic Primary Voters

  1. jrs says:

    It’s probably some kind of response to always losing, and anyone remotely progressive has been losing for at least 40 years, with a small win here and there of course (union movement probably the most promising wins now), but overall. And that’s longer than many voters lifespans, and if not then at least longer than voters have been of voting age.

    So I think always losing drives humans/animals insane at some point. And so this trying to guess what everyone else thinks is on some level insane behavior. But it’s the insane behavior of humans/animals trying to figure out why they are always losing and how to somehow preempt or protect themselves from it happening again.

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