Wall Street Journal goes cuckoo for cross tabs on white suburban women

Wall Street Journal goes cuckoo for cross tabs on white suburban women

UPDATE: Thursday, Nov 3, 2022 · 7:35:43 PM +00:00 · Kerry Eleveld

UPDATE: NPR/PBS/Marist poll released Wednesday found essentially no change among suburban women in last couple months:

-Suburban women in late Aug/early Sept—52D/ 35R

-Suburban women now—53D/34 R  

Not to be outdone by all the garbage GOP polls swamping the aggregators, the Wall Street Journal used what was ostensibly a good poll of 1,500 people to make a fanciful claim that white suburban women have wholesale defected from Democrats.

Based on a subsample of 150 women, the poll, conducted by Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio and Democratic pollster John Anzalone, found that white women living in suburban areas now prefer generic Republican candidates by 15 points, a net shift of 27 points away from Democrats since the outlet’s August poll. The key issue driving the wholesale defection from Democrats was the economy, according to the poll. 

“We’re talking about a collapse, if you will, in that group on the perceptions of the economy,”  Fabrizio said.

Asked which party had the better economic plan, the cohort of white suburban women moved from favoring Democrats by double digits in August to favoring Republicans by double digits now. Here’s the graph included in the article.

Note the sourcing in the graph of 150 voters. In the final paragraph of the article, the Journal notes that the subsample includes a margin of error of nearly +/- 6 points:

The sample of white suburban women was smaller and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.7 percentage points or 8 percentage points on some of the policy questions.

Overall, the survey gives Republicans a 2-point advantage in the congressional ballot, which is totally within the realm of possibility.

But let’s check in with white suburban women in Civiqs tracking, which develops trend lines over time rather than taking a single snapshot of the electorate.

Overall, Civiqs puts the generic ballot among registered voters at D+3, 49% – 46% (it’s D+2 among likely voters, but WSJ surveyed registered voters).

Among white women, the breakdown is almost static at D+1, 48% – 47%. Civiqs doesn’t use “suburban” as a classification, but add “college graduate” into the sort, and Democrats take a 4-point lead—a far cry from R+15 among the Journal’s sample of 150 white suburban women.

Just for kicks, let’s add in “independent” white college-educated women to the sort—that’s a particularly important group given how tribal voting patterns are these days. Still looking very good for Democrats at D+17. In fact, notably, the group appears to be breaking toward Democrats over the last month as the number of “unsure” voters among the cohort has dwindled. Republicans have likewise flatlined at 36% as the election nears.

Look, white college-educated women are an extremely critical group of high-propensity voters, so it’s worth paying attention to them. According to voter file research by the Democratic data firm Catalist, Democrats have won a majority of the group in the last three elections: 55% in 2016, 57% in 2018, and 58% in 2020.

Are suburban women worried about the economy? Yes, basically every voter has inflation on the brain right now. It’s a question of whether the group actually believes Republicans are better for the economy and will prioritize that issue over a loss of critical freedoms such as making one’s own reproductive decisions regarding family planning, pregnancy, and birth control. That tension may play differently in different states depending on whether abortion bans are in the offing if Republicans win governors’ races in places like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

But given the WSJ poll’s subsample and margin of error, a “collapse” among 150 white suburban women isn’t much more meaningful than a fart in the wind.

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