Identity Politics Peculiarities in WPRI Poll


Everybody’s talking about the top-line results from the new poll released yesterday by WPRI and Roger Williams University.  As many foresee as the likely outcome, Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo narrowly edges out Republican Allan Fung 38% to 36%, with former Republican Joe Trillo acting as a spoiler for Fung by taking 6% of the vote.

More interesting, though, because more surprising, are a couple of conclusions visible in the detailed results.  In both cases, they go against some assumptions about identity politics.

First is that Republican Patricia Morgan actually does worse against Raimondo among women than does Fung, reducing the vote for Moderate Party candidate William Gilbert and increasing the vote for Trillo.


A general impression from all of the questions and broader reading is that women are to the left of men, on average, which could indicate that Fung is simply more palatable to women on ideological grounds.  (A cynic might cite this dynamic as a deeper result of identity politics.)

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Second is that younger Rhode Islanders are actually less sold on the sexual harassment narrative, at least in their emphasis on the issue:


This seems to contradict the received wisdom generally pushed in the mainstream media.  Perhaps older Rhode Islanders, remembering a time when sexual harassment really was a significant problem, still hold that view, while younger generations believe that it’s something of a problem (otherwise why would everybody be so heated about it?) but simply don’t see it actually happening all that much.

I remember a conversation with my grandparents along similar lines with racism.  How they responded to political issues had largely to do with their long-ago experience with the matter, and they hadn’t sufficiently adjusted to the way in which people’s attitudes have changed.  Naturally, those who traffic in identity politics and have their livelihoods invested in it have labored to ensure that everybody continues to believe these things are pervasive problems.