Gender gap in the NC Senate race

A couple weeks ago I talked to a reporter about the gender gap in the NC Senate race.  Before the interview I mentioned the upcoming interview to my Campaigns & Elections class and my students confirmed that the gender gap in the Hagan vs. Tillis race was uncommonly large– even compared to several other races with a Democratic woman running against a Republican man.   Today, I had a similar such request and while jogging (always do my best thinking then) I came up with what I think is a reasonable hypothesis for what’s going on here.  But first, behold the NC gender gap and be amazed (via the latest Elon poll):

Differences also arise by sex and race. Women offer higher levels of support (52%-33%) favoring Hagan, notably among the single and divorced, while men support Tillis (50%-38%) with the greatest level of support among those who are married.

So, these group differences do fit with what we typically find, but they are atypically large.  Anyway, the one big feature of this Senate race is how focused it is on education.  That’s just not an issue in most Senate races.  And it’s an issue where there is a clear gender gap.  Though I’ve not found any good data in a brief search, I strongly suspect that not only are women more liberal on education spending than are men (this we do know), but that women place more importance on the issue.  It is certainly possible that the unusual and intense focus on education in the NC Senate campaign could be a substantial driver of the unusually large gender gap.

This actually got me to thinking that it was perhaps a significant strategic error for the Republicans to nominate Tillis– the face of the General Assembly.  Had a member of the US House run (a very common stepping-stone for Senate candidates), it would have been much harder for Hagan to focus her campaign running against the unpopular policies of the NC GA.  Maybe I’m wrong, but I think Patrick McHenry would have probably been a much stronger candidate than Tillis (or anybody from the GA).  Anyway, I do think it has worked out to Hagan’s benefit.

Photo of the day

From a Big Picture daily life gallery:

UConn students from Storrs, Conn., Gary Tu, Danny Wang and Victor Zheng, fish at Shenipsit Lake in Tolland, Conn. during sunset on Aug. 19. (Jim Michaud/Journal Inquirer via Associated Press)

Harsher prison sentences don’t actually work; infographic version

This is pretty awesome via Pew.  There’s plenty of reasons certain people should spend a lot of time in prisons.  That said, as a society we put way too many people in prison for way too long.  And it is probably not doing anything to help with our crime rate as this infographic demonstrates:

Bill Bennett on the Common Core

Former Reagan Education Secretary has an Op-Ed in the WSJ making the “conservative case” for the Common Core.  Ummm, he’s just a little bit late to the party.  That ship has sailed.  Conservatives now “know” that Common Core is a massive, federal over-reach seeking to take over and ruin state-level education.  I love how John F. summed it up on FB:

LIKE if you agree that the U.S. needs a set of high-quality benchmarks for K-12 education that states voluntarily adopt. These benchmarks should require all students to be able to understand English composition and learn basic mathematical skills. They must at least require children to read the Declaration of Independence, the preamble to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, and learn fractions, decimals, percentages, ratios and the like. These standards should be developed by education experts including teachers, allow states to build upon them if they choose, and the standards should not prescribe what is taught in our classrooms or how it’s taught. What do you think???

I think it sounds great.  And so does Bill Bennett.  I was actually amused by how hard Bennett worked (given his audience) to make the case that there really was all sorts of bad Obama/liberal-ness all over Common Core, e.g.,

Conservatives have reason to be upset by this federal overreach. The Obama administration has run roughshod over individual rights and state sovereignty, on issues ranging from health care to climate change. But the federal intrusion into Common Core, however unwelcome and unhelpful,

But in the end, Bennett’s arguments come down to the same one’s whatever sane and sensible people who pay attention to reality use:

The same goes for math. Certain abilities—the grasp of fractions, decimals, percentages, ratios and the like—should be the common knowledge of all.

That’s the fundamental idea behind a core curriculum: preserving and emphasizing what’s essential, in fields like literature and math, to a worthwhile education.

Of course all these things are true, but the Tea Party (which has clearly taken over the GOP) has never been all that interested in reality.  The best we can hope for is that the rubes are fooled by re-naming high standards “NC Goals for the Future” or whatever.  Because, I think/hope, not even the Tea Party is dumb enough to want to lower standards.

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