When Elizabeth Warren bowed out of the presidential race Thursday, the prevailing media narrative was that Democratic voters are sexist.
Headline after headline blamed the candidate’s failures on the pernicious effect of sexism. “America Punished Elizabeth Warren for her Competence,” runs the header over Megan Garber’s article at The Atlantic. Just underneath, Garber makes her thesis clear: “the country still doesn’t know what to make of a woman — in politics and beyond — who refuses to qualify her success.”
Jessica Valenti was blunter over at Medium: “Don’t tell me this isn’t sexism,” Valenti said of the news that Warren had suspended her campaign.
A CNN panel even blamed sexism for questions directed at the candidate’s healthcare and tax plans.
The alternative explanation for Warren’s unpopularity, of course, is that what moves The New York Times to ecstasy — detailed plans advocating decriminalization of border hopping coupled with factually dubious stories of personal female victimhood — does not move average Democrats to the same, let alone Americans as a whole.
The Democratic Party’s voting base, for now anyway, remains broader than the Acela-corridor affluent and educated liberals who thrilled to Warren’s siren song.
In an age where authenticity is one of the electorate’s most prized qualities, she was easily outstripped by both Bernie Sanders — who is authentically a commune-ejected, Castro-loving Communist — and Joe Biden, who seems authentically like a lost Boomer who still thinks it’s 1990.
If the source of Warren’s downfall was sexism, it certainly crops up in some odd places.
Two-thirds of female voters in Warren’s home state of Massachusetts — where the electorate should have been most familiar with her record and supposedly “stellar” plans — voted for other candidates in the primary. She finished third and fourth among women in Iowa and New Hampshire, respectively.
Research does not support Warren’s contention that her sex was a handicap. While more men than women take a shot at winning political office, when women do run they are at least equally likely to win their races as are male candidates. In fact, some studies point to the power of incumbency – rather than sexism of voters – as the chief obstacle to electing more women to political office.
Elizabeth Warren was a bad candidate. She gave evasive answers to tough questions, and the personal stories on which she heavily relied, from her claims to Native American heritage to alleging a firing based on pregnancy, often failed to check out.
Ironically, the narrative of female victimhood, on which Warren relied not only throughout her campaign, but to explain its end, is itself overwhelmingly politically unpopular.
Warren hammered the sexist theme home against Sanders and Bloomberg on the debate stage to cheers from the media, but polls show political correctness is exceedingly unpopular – and not just on the right.
Fully 80 percent of Americans report in surveys that they believe political correctness is a problem for the country. That distaste holds strongly across racial groups, and even to some extent across age groups. It’s no accident that the strongest predictor of “wokeism” — affluence — is a quality Warren’s support base also shared.
There is no evidence that Democratic voters, nor American voters as a whole, have deep objections to voting a female president. The majority of registered voters are “very ready” or “extremely ready” to vote for a woman, and only 16 percent claimed they were not.
Paradoxically, blaming sexism for the failures of female candidates may itself be creating voter mistrust that did not exist beforehand, as voters in the same survey underestimated the number of their fellow Americans who felt as positively as they did about electing a woman.
Progressives teaching their daughters that sexism is what stood in Elizabeth Warren’s way may in fact be creating the very conditions they decry, in which future voters — and candidates — hold back out of misplaced fears that a woman cannot win the presidency.