If Only…

Image Courtesy of FiveThirtyEight

Politically based website FiveThirtyEight has made their forecasts for this year’s presidential election using voters’ gender identities as a prediction tool. Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight took a moment to explain his research before explaining its significance:

“. . . While we’re in something of a wait-and-see mode, one demographic split caught my eye. That was from a Public Religion Research Institute poll conducted on behalf of the Atlantic. It showed a massive gender split with Clinton trailing Trump by 11 percentage points among men, but leading him by 33 points among women…No candidate has won a presidential election by more than 26 percentage points since the popular vote became a widespread means of voting since 1824.”

Silver went on to cite national polls, as of last month, which showed Secretary Clinton maintaining an average 15 points over Trump’s 5 points. He used these points in addition to how many electoral votes each state has in order to generate these two maps of which candidate would win, based on voters’ genders. The graphic which showed a map of states colored in red and blue if only women voted showed Secretary Clinton winning with 458 electoral votes in 37 out of 49 states; Nebraska showed a split between both Trump and Secretary Clinton. On the contrary, another graphic colored in the same coding showing how the election would turn out if only men voted looked significantly less liberally unanimous. This graphic showed Trump winning with 350 electoral votes in 36 out of 49 states; Maine showed the same split that Nebraska did in the preceding map. Even without getting more electoral votes, Trump would still win. Silver also stated that the only way that Trump could lose the election is if women vote against him as he also noted during the 2012 Romney-Obama election.

This election forecast prompted Trump’s supporters — men and women — to start “#repealthe19th,” setting political discourse in America back at least a century. What would that really look like, though? It would be an America where Roe v. Wade would’ve been thrown out before it even reached the purview of the Supreme Court. It would be an America where “equal pay for equal work” is laughed at before the sentence is even finished. It would be an America where women’s voices are silenced by prejudice with no way out. That’s why a forecast like this is so jarring. How can we look at maps like these and not be worried for the people that could be affected by it? We shouldn’t be able to. That’s the point.

The point of projection maps like this isn’t only to scare the other side, whichever side one person may be on. The goal of maps like these is to educate people about the reality of the country in which they live and understand the aftermath of any of the outcomes. For many, an election like this means fear. A Trump presidency means that queer and trans Americans are afraid to come out, pursue hormone therapy, or seek out supportive communities. It means that if he follows through with his proposal to overturn Roe v. Wade over half the country loses services that organizations like Planned Parenthood provide like cancer screenings, STD testing, and any means of birth control. His presidency showed younger generations that an admitted sexual assault perpetrator can still shape policy that they don’t even understand yet. It puts women in fear for their safety; they feel as though not even the man who governs over these 50 states is on their side when they are attacked on a basis of gender and sex. Maps like Silver’s show a projection divided so strikingly to create dialogue on issues like this. It serves as a catalyst for people to question and educate themselves on how a candidate’s policy might affect the people in their lives. It helps us to sharpen our perspective and understand that real, living, breathing people can and will be affected by the reality of certain people filling a role like that of the presidency.

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