Apparently, this primary election is all about race and gender. So says the New York Times ("Polls of Democratic voters on Tuesday made it clear that the politics of identity—race, gender, class—was driving the contest between Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton."), CNN, and, well, just about everyone in the mainstream news media world. While in some ways it's gratifying to see all this talk about identity politics as they're played out in the electoral arena—enough coverage inexorably leads to at least some nuance, by the law of averages and the critical mass of the echo chamber—but mostly, this "it's all about race and gender" line is, frankly, bullshit.
Look at the polls the Times is talking about: Obama won among white men and black folks of all genders; Hillary won among white women, Hispanics, and Asians. If you try rilly, rilly hard, you can read this as a straight-up identity-politics split, with white people voting their gender and black people voting their race. (Trying to tuck in the loose ends, conventional wisdom has it that Clinton's support among non-black voters of color has to do with those groups' anti-black racism.) But this so-called analysis depends deciding that when white men vote for Obama it's about gender, and when black women do, it's about race. How convenient for the so-called analysts—and also for those who like to forget that, yes, Virginia, white people have a race too. (Not to mention that some some of the differences pundits are touting are small: Hillary's Super Tuesday percentage of white votes was reportedly 53%, hardly a landslide.)
The fact is, voters are and have always crossed all sorts of identity lines in their voting (which should come as a big fat "duh" to any thinking person, given not just history but also statistics and the fact that races are generally run between only two people). In a contest that, unlike so many in our nation's past, actually includes candidates who aren't white guys, you could take any demographic poll breakdowns and spin an identity politics argument from them.
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