Daughters and politics

There’s a fair amount of pretty cool research that suggests having a daughter– as opposed to only sons– affects the political views of parents (e.g., among members of Congress, or this summary).  The latest is some research that shows greater support for Hillary Clinton among parents of daughters.  Via the Monkey Cage:

The analyses above combine the five biweekly YouGov/Economist surveys conducted since Joe Biden announced he would not run for president. Taken together, these data reveal a large effect of child’s sex on support for Hillary Clinton.

The first columns of the display, in fact, shows that parents of daughters are 14 percentage points more likely to support Hillary Clinton in the primaries than parents of only sons.  The error bars in the figure suggest that the effect of having a daughter on support for Clinton is somewhere between 8 and 20 percentage points.

The remaining columns also indicate that this “daughter effect” on Clinton support is consistent for all kinds of parents.  Mothers and fathers alike, regardless of how many children they have, are more likely to support Hillary Clinton in the primaries if they have a daughter.  Additional analyses also uncovered a statistically significant effect of daughters on support for Clinton among white, African American, and Hispanic parents.

It remains to be seen, though, whether this large and consistent impact of parenting daughters will extend into support for Hillary Clinton’s probable general election campaign. Clinton’s gender could be less of a factor in such a partisan election, where Americans who explicitly want to vote for (or against) a female candidate may have to cross party lines.

Cool stuff!  I’ve long wanted to add the gender of children into my parenthood and politics research but it is a rare political dataset that includes the gender of children (the vast majority simply include their presence or absence in the household, if anything).   Looks like I need to get my hands on some yougov data.

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Photo of the day

A pretty cool Telegraph gallery of equine photos (you better be reading this today, EMG):

Horse Human- An Emotional Bond

Soulful, enigmatic, graceful, beautiful—so many words come to mind when describing a horse, but no word can capture the true essence of a horse quite like an exquisite photograph.

Picture: Bob Tabor

Terrorism in perspective

Nice piece from Peter Baker in the NYT today on the difficult for Obama in balancing terror and reality (the reality, of course, is that terrorism is way less terrifying than Republicans make it out to be) in his upcoming State of the Union.

When President Obama speaks to the nation in his finalState of the Union address on Tuesday night, he will offer a familiar reassurance that the country is expending enormous effort to protect Americans against international terrorism.

Here is what he probably will not say, at least not this bluntly: Americans are more likely to die in a car crash, drown in a bathtub or be struck by lightning than be killed by a terrorist. The news media is complicit in inflating the sense of danger. The Islamic State does not pose an existential threat to the United States.

He will presumably not say this, either: Given how hard it is for intelligence and law enforcement agencies to detect people who have become radicalized, like those who opened fire at a holiday party in San Bernardino, Calif., a certain number of relatively low-level terrorist attacks may be inevitable, and Americans may have to learn to adapt the way Israel has.

By all accounts, Mr. Obama is sympathetic to this view, which is shared by a number of counterterrorism veterans who contend that anxiety has warped the American public’s perspective. But it is also a politically untenable argument at a time when polls show greater fears about terrorism than at any point since the weeks after Sept. 11, 2001. [emphases mine] As it is, critics contend that Mr. Obama does not take the threat seriously enough and has not done enough to guard the nation against attack.

Jon K. wrote to me, “What do you think the chances of America putting the terror threat in perspective? ”  Alas, my answer is not good.  Fear is powerful.  Humans are animals and all animals are easily motivated by fear as a survival mechanism.  Like lots of survival mechanisms, though, (mmm, sugar!) they can easily go awry when confronted with the complexities of the modern world.  As long as there are politicians who see political gain through fearmongering (yes, I’m looking at you most of the Republican party), we won’t be able to put this in perspective.  And as long as humans are so easily manipulated by fear, there will always be politicians looking to misuse that for political gain.

Ted Cruz, hatred, and the Christian right

David Brooks‘ column today is entitled “the brutalism of Ted Cruz.”  Aptly titled, as Brooks brutalizes Cruz in calling him out for the small-minded, hate-filled, fear-mongering a$$hole that he is:

In 1997, Michael Wayne Haley was arrested after stealing a calculator from Walmart. This was a crime that merited a maximum two-year prison term. But prosecutors incorrectly applied a habitual offender law. Neither the judge nor the defense lawyer caught the error and Haley was sentenced to 16 years.

Eventually, the mistake came to light and Haley tried to fix it. Ted Cruz was solicitor general of Texas at the time. Instead of just letting Haley go for time served, Cruz took the case to the Supreme Court to keep Haley in prison for the full 16 years.

Some justices were skeptical. “Is there some rule that you can’t confess error in your state?” Justice Anthony Kennedy asked. The court system did finally let Haley out of prison, after six years.

The case reveals something interesting about Cruz’s character. Ted Cruz is now running strongly among evangelical voters, especially in Iowa. But in his career and public presentation Cruz is a stranger to most of what would generally be considered the Christian virtues: humility, mercy, compassion and grace. Cruz’s behavior in the Haley case is almost the dictionary definition of pharisaism: an overzealous application of the letter of the law in a way that violates the spirit of the law, as well as fairness and mercy... [emphases mine]

But Cruz’s speeches are marked by what you might call pagan brutalism. There is not a hint of compassion, gentleness and mercy. Instead, his speeches are marked by a long list of enemies, and vows to crush, shred, destroy, bomb them. When he is speaking in a church the contrast between the setting and the emotional tone he sets is jarring.

Cruz lays down an atmosphere of apocalyptic fear. America is heading off “the cliff to oblivion.” After one Democratic debate he said, “We’re seeing our freedoms taken away every day, and last night was an audition for who would wear the jackboot most vigorously.” …

But Cruz manufactures an atmosphere of menace in which there is no room for compassion, for moderation, for anything but dismantling and counterattack. And that is what he offers. Cruz’s programmatic agenda, to the extent that it exists in his speeches, is to destroy things: destroy the I.R.S., crush the “jackals” of the E.P.A., end funding for Planned Parenthood, reverse Obama’s executive orders, make the desert glow in Syria, destroy the Iran nuclear accord.

Some of these positions I agree with, but the lack of any positive emphasis, any hint of reform conservatism, any aid for the working class, or even any humane gesture toward cooperation is striking…

Evangelicals and other conservatives have had their best influence on American politics when they have proceeded in a spirit of personalism — when they have answered hostility with service and emphasized the infinite dignity of each person. They have won elections as happy and hopeful warriors. Ted Cruz’s brutal, fear-driven, apocalypse-based approach is the antithesis of that.

Yes!  Good stuff.  The other day my stepmother asked me to back up my contention that Ted Cruz is actually evil and I struggled more than I should have had to.  Now, I’m just going to send her this David Brooks’ column.

And the fact that Cruz is so popular among evangelicals is a great example of why so many of us (moderate Christians and otherwise) and deeply skeptical of right-wing Christians.  In backing Cruz, they have chosen a candidate who at every instance chooses fear and hate over love and charity.  It’s hard to imagine a grosser distortion of Jesus’ message than Ted Cruz.

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