Marcotte Makes Basic Statistical Error: Mythical BernieBro Continues to Elude

Amanda Marcotte is a hack for Hillary. This much is impossible to dispute. But worse than that, she also has no idea what she’s doing and her analysis on many election topics is objectively wrong. Her Salon post today provides a wonderful example of her chronic wrongness.

In the post, Marcotte sets out to prove that there is a statistically observable BernieBro phenomenon. Her argument for this goes as follows:

  • Premise: If Bernie Sanders’ young supporters skew more male than female, then that shows that a chunk of his supporters don’t like the idea of a woman in power.
  • Fact: Bernie Sanders’ young supporters skew more male than female.
  • Conclusion: Therefore a chunk of Sanders’ supporters don’t like the idea of a woman in power.

One could quibble with the Premise, but thankfully one doesn’t have to. This is because the Fact is simply not true.

Marcotte came to believe the Fact was true after she saw this graph produced by John Sides in the Washington Post.

After reposting this graph, Marcotte explains:

The Bernie bro phenomenon of young men whose enthusiasm for socialism is goosed by an unacknowledged sexism appears to be a real, measurable phenomenon. A lot of Sanders supporters, male and female, prefer him because of his socialist ideas. But the gap between young men and young women does suggest, though I’ll get no end of grief for saying this out loud, that a chunk of Sanders support with his young male cohort comes from guys who really don’t cotton well to the idea of women in power.

Can you see the problem? Marcotte used a graph showing a significant gender divide among young supporters of Hillary to show that there is a significant gender divide among young supporters of Bernie. She appears to assume that Bernie’s figures are a mirror image of Hillary’s figures. Sadly for her and the BernieBro myth, this isn’t true.

I know this isn’t true because, after failing to find similar age-gender tabulations for Bernie using this same data set, I emailed John Sides and asked for his assistance. He informed me that these tabulations are not public but that he has access to them for his academic research. He graciously provided me the Bernie tabulation I was interested in:

Hillary’s gender divide among under-30s is very real: 43.77% of females in this age group support her compared to 36.62% of males. But Bernie has no gender divide among under-30s: 48.15% of females in this age group support him compared to 49.77% of males. This is a difference of 1.6 percentage points, which is well within any conceivable margin of error.

Because Marcotte is a hack for Hillary, these facts will have little effect upon anything that she believes about the world, and even less effect upon what she writes about the world. But, if you take the argument outlined above seriously, you would have to conclude that there is no identifiable BernieBro phenomenon: Sanders’ youth support is evenly divided among men and women.

  • Jonathan Shockley

    Amanda Marcotte is a corporate journalist who likes to feel radical through her absurdly extremist feminist positions, but then can’t even bring herself to support a moderate new dealer like Bernie. Marcotte turns out to be just another corporate media commissar, a standard center-right Hillary supporter.