Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics on the CA Exit Polls

Nate Silver just posted his analysis of the California exit polls and voting patterns on proposition 8.  Like all reason-minded people, he cautioned against blaming any racial group for passage of the controversial amendment.

Certainly, the No on 8 folks might have done a better job of outreach to California’s black and Latino communities. But the notion that Prop 8 passed because of the Obama turnout surge is silly. Exit polls suggest that first-time voters — the vast majority of whom were driven to turn out by Obama (he won 83 percent [!] of their votes) — voted against Prop 8 by a 62-38 margin. More experienced voters voted for the measure 56-44, however, providing for its passage.

However, there is something notable about this post.  It’s what he didn’t say.

He didn’t criticize the validity of the exit poll.  He didn’t caution us against trusting the data.  He cautioned against misreading the data.  His take was that Latino’s and African-Americans were not to blame.  If anything, it was older voters.

At the end of the day, Prop 8’s passage was more a generational matter than a racial one. If nobody over the age of 65 had voted, Prop 8 would have failed by a point or two. It appears that the generational splits may be larger within minority communities than among whites, although the data on this is sketchy.

When I first saw the exit polls, I was hurt and angry.  As party activists started taking sides and screaming at each other, I was devastated.  Looking back on all of the nasty rhetoric (coming from BOTH SIDES), I realize that these exit polls don’t point to a problem.  They point to an opportunity.

If the African-American and Latino communities are going to become more politically active and if they are going to vote more with Democrats, then we (LGBT community) have a better chance at bringing these voters over to our side of the issue.  As these two communities grow and represent a greater and greater proportion of American society, we have the opportunity to form a new coalition for equality for everyone.

For those who looked at the data and saw a scapegoat, and for those who looked at the data and saw a conspiracy, you were all wrong.  The election is over.  It’s time to put the pain behind us and move forward.


  1. spacemanspiff

    … during these last few days.

    Your diaries and comments (here and elsewhere) have been instrumental in my understanding and appreciation of the issues.

    Thanks you for speaking your mind and thank you for optimism and level headed analysis.

    I look forward to reading your thoughts as we use politics to achieve progress.

    Thanks you!

  2. The election is over.  It’s time to put the pain behind us and move forward.

    after the things you said in your diary about homophobia in the black community.

  3. GrassrootsOrganizer

    I really like this notion of seeing opportunity in those exit polls instead of a way to lay blame.  Kudos to you!

  4. I’m glad some sensible voices have gone beyond finger pointing to understanding.

    I can’t speak for California, but certainly among black communities in the UK, and especially black churches, homophobia is much more tolerated. (I know this because my adopted brother is both black and gay).

    We’re also incredibly familiar with this in our state church, the Anglican Church, which has been teetering on the edge of a schism for the last ten years. Why? Because while the US branch, the Episcopalian Church, is ready to ordain openly gay priests and bishops, the Evangelical wing, mainly led by African churches, will not tolerate it.

    So there is clearly a historic intolerance of homosexuality in black churches which needs to addressed. Obama won the overwhelming support of the LGBT community. Black church leaders should recognise the joint interest of progressive groups, just as labor unions recognised the need to fight racism and homophobia.

    I suppose I should be shocked by the fierce angry identity politics tirades that occupy parts of the blogosphere now. But on the other hand – some people like nothing better than to fight.

    Thanks for the diary, Drew. And once again apologies if you thought my farewell two finger salute to the trolls and PUMAs on mydd was somehow directed at genuine Hillary supporters.  

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