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The opinions and interests of a husband, analyst and Iraq war veteran.


Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Value Voters "myth" proved correct?

Earlier I linked David Brooks in the NYT: "The Values-Vote Myth"

It seems that at the time ( caught up as I was in my anger over many Kerry-voters' dismissal of all Bush-voters as stupid, Christian, gay bashing, rednecks ) I may have agreed too quickly with his analysis of a poorly worded exit poll:

"This year, the official story is that throngs of homophobic, Red America values-voters surged to the polls to put George W. Bush over the top.

This theory certainly flatters liberals, and it is certainly wrong."


"Much of the misinterpretation of this election derives from a poorly worded question in the exit polls. When asked about the issue that most influenced their vote, voters were given the option of saying "moral values." That can mean anything -- or nothing. Who doesn't vote on moral values? If you ask an inept question, you get a misleading result."

Mr. Brooks goes on to make a case that the election turned on the issues of terrorism, and Iraq, concluding that "if you think we are safer now, you probably voted for Bush. If you think we are less safe, you probably voted for Kerry. That's policy, not fundamentalism."

And I quickly agreed since that reflects why I myself voted for the President. However, twenty days later, Maggie Gallagher at NRO argues that Mr. Brooks is wrong. I'm still wading through the numbers ( has anyone else quadrupled their knowledge this year of just how polls work? ) but it seems persuasive enough to reconsider my knee-jerk acceptance of Brooks' analysis.

From "The Rise of the Values Voters"

"But what do the voters mean by "moral values?" Here too the [new] Pew poll makes it clear that voters were not at all confused by what they meant.

When voters who chose moral values as their most important issue were asked "what comes to mind when you think about 'moral values,'" 44 percent named specific issues (29 percent said gay marriage, 32 percent said either abortion or stem cells). Eighteen percent said something like "God, the Bible, or religion," and 17 percent said some version of "traditional values" such as "family values," "right versus wrong," living by a "moral code," or a "general decline in morality." About 23 percent gave some response that indicated a reference to the candidates' personal moral qualities. All told, 79 percent of values voters agreed that the phrase referred either to social issues such as gay marriage and abortion, or to traditional values generally, or to religion. (The numbers add up to slightly more than 100 percent because voters could list up to two items.)"

It seems increasingly likely that the President did ride a wave support from those who identify guns, abortion, and gay marriage as primary values.

Watch for updates as I search for cooberating evidence.

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