Dan Savage is pissed:
I’m done pretending that the handful of racist gay white men out there–and they’re out there, and I think they’re scum–are a bigger problem for African Americans, gay and straight, than the huge numbers of homophobic African Americans are for gay Americans, whatever their color.
Fair enough. I have no way of judging how much of a problem “gay racist white men” are for me. I don’t even have a way of knowing whether gays are more or less racist than straight people. Moreover, I don’t much care. But Dan’s logic basically only works if you see black people strictly as a group who’ve been shitted on. In other words, if you believe that racism is a singular and uncomplicated variable, that black folks aren’t effected by any other factors, than you’ll probably agree with Dan.
So, sure, you could look at this exit poll…
…and say, since the margin between for and against came down to 500,000 votes out of 10 million, If only we had gotten 100% of the African-American vote against 8, we would have had this in the bag. How dare They. But what if we had gotten 100% of the Asian and “Other” vote against Prop 8, which would have been an increase of 450,000 votes, and, like, 1% percent more of the white vote? What if we had gotten 75% of the Latino vote, instead of 47%? Or what if we had gotten 59% of the white vote against Prop 8 instead of 51%, the most achievable statistical increase? What if we didn’t put the outcome of gay marriage all on one group, and if we had gotten 6.5% more of the white vote (+409,500), 3% more of the Latino vote (+54,000), 2% more of the black vote (+20,000), and 2% more of the Asian and Other vote (+18,000)? Or any combination therein?
Answer: gay marriage would be legal today in California.
It was deeply heartbreaking to see California come out to support such clear bigotry in denial image of love. As many of you already know same sex marriage has been legal in Canada for a few years now, and it has caused no disruption in our society. It is my belief that by affirming the right of all to marry, it has helped to make us more inclusive and accepting of others.
When I went to various GLBTQI blogs to express my sympathy at the passing of PROP 8, I was horrified to discover that it was being blamed on blacks. Once again the divide and conquer tactics of the ruling elite have prevailed to divide marginalized bodies from each other.
The blame game has begun, and clearly it is all the fault of the blacks.
Factually Unsupported Myth #1: CNN’s 10% Black exit poll sample accurately reflects the actual distribution of voters on Proposition 8.
Each and every argument I’ve read since Proposition 8 passed that lays blame on Black people — whether only like the worst of the haters or even primarily — for the passage of Proposition 8 starts with CNN’s exit poll statistics about Proposition 8 at its foundation. Yet anyone who knows anything about the demographics of the State of California – or anyone who spent ½ as much time looking up actual data as ranting all over the free world about what “Black people” did “to gay people” (as if those groups are wholly separate, telling you a lot about the racism that underlies the argument) would know that 10% simply defies reality, unless a million or so Black folks snuck into the state just before the election so they could say they cast their vote for Barack Obama on sunny California shores.
But even if you are not like me, not an actual resident of the state and willing to do my homework before spouting off, it did not take any study to figure out what was the problem. Indeed, if you read CNN’s own explanation of its exit polling/projection process, it is clear that CNN makes no claim that the distribution of folks which it exit polled about Proposition 8 was necessarily reflective of the actual racial percentages of the California electorate who voted, not even in those places that CNN actually exit-polled in. From CNN’s own website about its methodology:
The process of projecting races begins by creating a sample of precincts. The precincts are selected by random chance, like a lottery, and every precinct in the state has an equal chance to be in the sample. They are not bellwether precincts or “key” precincts. Each one does not mirror the vote in a state but the sample collectively does.
The first indication of the vote comes from the exit polls conducted by EMR. On the day of the election, EMR interviewers stand outside of precincts in a given state. They count the people coming out after they have voted and are instructed to interview every third person or every fifth person, for example, throughout the voting day. The rate of selection depends on the number of voters expected at the polling place that day. They do this from the time the polling place opens until shortly before it closes.
What’s missing from this picture?
CNN has left us without a critical piece of information necessary to establish the validity of its sampling on Proposition 8: precisely where the network exit polled in California. It simply says that “the aggregate sample is accurate” but has not provided they key piece of information necessary to actually prove it.
This matters for a reason. Specifically, in a state where different demographic populations are reasonably-evenly spread throughout a state, which does not also have dramatic divergences in political ideology which depend on where you live within the state, CNN’s methodology might permit it to make a truly accurate statement about the percentage of voters in total who voted on a measure state-wide.
That, however, is not an accurate description of the state of California, as anyone who lives here knows.