Math Isn’t That Hard

Jonathan Chait and I may not agree on much when it comes to politics, but we do agree on something when it comes to mathematics–namely, that the laws of arithmetic are immutable. So, when Jenny Kutner, a Salon writer, tries desperately to pretend that Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis did not lose the women’s vote–even though Davis actually did lose the women’s vote–Chait can be entirely forgiven for calling Kutner out. He is, after all, entirely right to do so:

. . . My admittedly crude method of answering the question “Did Greg Abbott or Wendy Davis win the female vote” would be to compare the number of women who voted for Abbott with the number of women who voted for Davis, and define the larger number as the winner.

No way, says Kutner, citing Andrea Grimes, who likewise argues that it is racist to credit Abbott with winning the women’s vote merely because more women voted for him than his opponent:

You’ll hear that Greg Abbott “carried” women voters in Texas. Anyone who says that is also saying this: that Black women and Latinas are not “women,” and that carrying white women is enough to make the blanket statement that Abbott carried all women. That women generallyfailed to vote for Wendy Davis. As if women of color are some separate entity, some mysterious other, some bizarre demographic of not-women.

Nobody is saying the votes of women of color don’t count. Everybody’s vote counts for one vote. I am comfortable stating that Barack Obama won the women’s vote in 2012, even though he lost white women.

Kutner calls this method “the erasure of votes from women of color.” Well, no. Being outvoted is not erasure. Until somebody develops a new, less racist way of comparing the value of two numbers, people are going to define the winner of a group as the candidate with more votes.

I will only add that it is incredible that we are having this argument. I could swear that there are better arguments out there for us to obsess over, but try telling that to Jenny Kutner and Andrea Grimes.

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