Mark Morford, San Francisco Chronicle, October 24, 2012
These are the facts you don’t want to know. This is the hard data that can make you cringe, that can despoil the soul and make you wonder at the sad state of the modern world, and gender politics, and the tragically deceived hearts of (ahem) men.
All that progress! All that supposed enlightenment! All that push and desire, that evolution and that open-hearted possibility! And for what? For naught! For shame!
Maybe I was just blocking it out. Maybe I just didn’t want to recall just how wide, how gnarled, how ugly was the gender gap in the last presidential election, when fully half of American men for some godforsaken reason clung to McCain while a huge majority of women understandably wanted Obama, and it was all tied to an antiquated idea that the modern male still hadn’t evolved much beyond his own chauvinistic posturing and the hollow, old-school, might-makes-right machismo McCain so wobblingly represented.
This time, I thought, must be different. This time such a sharp disparity simply cannot exist, particularly given how much the times have changed, given how far we have come, given how it was Obama who nailed bin Laden, Obama who ended a miserable war in Iraq, Obama who is a badass at hoops and Obama who ordered Somali pirates taken out, etcetera and so on, all of which, if nothing else, should appeal well enough to the base macho demographic. Not to mention how Mitt Romney is about as virile and appealing a male presence as a petrified snail.
Really, how could any semi-enlightened male worth his Detroit auto bailout possibly wish for a vacuous one-percenter like Mitt Romney, a guy who would just as soon lay them off as sell them to China for scrap?
I have been proven wrong. Leave it to Nate Silver’s harrowing analysis of the current gender gap in this election (see chart) to slap away any notions of gender equality, the idea that the men and women of America might, just might, have found some semblance of parity, and progress, with the only extant difference being education, intellectual attunement and economic concern.
Not even close. Here is your brutal nutshell takeaway: If only women voted, Obama wins in a landslide. If only men voted, Romney wins in a landslide. (Taken further: if only Latinos, blacks, celebrities, college grads, professors, scientists, poets, Burning Man attendees, book readers, trees, oceans, major cities or college towns of America voted, Obama nails it wholly and true. If only rich CEOs, gun owners, upper managers, oil companies, rednecks, shut-ins and guys who think Muslims are terrorists, Mexicans are lazy house painters and feminazis are ruining porn voted, Romney is a mutant and faraway god).
All of which leads to the most depressing conclusion of all: older white males remain the most terrified, lopsided, confused demographic in all of America, perhaps even more acutely — and more embarrassingly — in this election than any other in modern history.
Is this time any different? Is this election’s standard-model, white-male dread more pointed and true than ever? Maybe.
Nevertheless, the gap is as wide as ever, and the weird knot remains, as petrified and impossible to untie as ever. The good news is, the roles are changing rapidly, the next generation is coming fast, terrified old white guys are a dying breed. The bad news is, with so much at stake this time out (Supreme Court nominees, gay marriage, energy, health care, et al) the evolution of the species can’t come fast enough.