An idle thought

I wonder who would be elected president of the US if the candidates were:

  1. a black baptist lesbian
  2. a straight white male atheist

Assume the candidates have equivalent platforms, and neither is trying to cover up their identity.

On the one hand, atheists are the most selected-against demographic in US politics. On the other, candidate 1 has a whole list of strikes against her.

I think the thing that might work in candidate 2’s favour is that he only has one “hurdle” to overcome; if he can spin his way around that he’s good, but candidate 1 will be accused of favouring each of ethnic minority rights, women’s rights and gay rights over the “real issues” — and will probably be unable to evade all three long enough to focus on whatever she’s actually campaigning on.

I like Jake‘s comment: “There would be no president that year”

Update: upon further inspection, being gay is not far off from being an atheist in terms of being selected against. Maybe it’s cuz nobody could be one a them fags iffen they believed in the Word, so they gotta be a devil-worshippin’ atheist! :P But wow, look at the breakdown by political ideology!

One thought on “An idle thought”

  1. I think candidate 2 would win. I suspect that respondents to the poll underreported their own sexism and racism more than they underreported their anti-atheist prejudice, because it’s more socially acceptable to say that you wouldn’t vote for someone who doesn’t “share your values” (or something like that) than it is to say that you wouldn’t vote for someone with the wrong colour skin or the wrong set of genitals (especially in a telephone interview). There are probably a lot of people out there who will tell Gallup, and even themselves, that they have no problem voting for a black woman in principle, but who would somehow always manage to rationalize a preference for the white man running against her. And, as you suggested in the update, candidate 1’s homosexuality might end up cancelling out the advantage given to her by her religion; there would be people who would believe that if she’s a lesbian, she can’t possibly be a real Baptist.

    It’s also really hard to make predictions about combinations of features from the survey, because different characteristics, and the prejudices against them, interact in different ways. For example, I think that being gay would be a larger handicap for a male candidate than for a female one, just because of the way in which sexuality interacts with gender stereotypes. If a woman is running for president, then a certain number of the people who hate lesbians are going to assume that she is one, no matter what her actual sexual orientation may be.

    Now, if candidate 2 were a Muslim instead of an atheist, I think candidate 1’s chances would go up considerably. Gallup didn’t even ask about Muslims.

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