Saturday, February 4, 2012

More lockstep claims

So in my last post, i wondered aloud where the idea that Mormons are a lockstep people comes from. Wherever it comes from, though, it’s become a part of the narrative, and as evidence for that i give a line from one of Aaron Blake’s recent columns in the Washington Post,* this one about how the Mormon vote has helped Mitt Romney in the past, and how it was expected to help him in today’s caucuses. Here’s the line:

Because Mormons vote in unison and because they turn out in large numbers, a state like Nevada is virtually impossible for any of Romney’s opponents to win.

Did you catch that? “Because Mormons vote in unison…” Interesting phrasing there—it presupposes that Mormons vote in unison, rather than trying to establish whether that’s actually the case. It certainly is the case that Mormons have tended to vote for Romney at rather amazingly high rates in the past, but how would one know that Mormons voting for Romney at such high rates isn’t simply a case of identity politics, rather than the group voting as a (near-)monolithic bloc?

* I grew up near Washington DC, and a lot of the Mormons i grew up around were convinced that the Post was an ardently anti-Mormon newspaper. I never really got that, myself—rather, the newspaper, like very many newspapers, was intensely after the merest whiff of scandal coming from any large organization, and that occasionally meant they reported on negative stuff about the Mormon church. There is a difference between that practice and being anti-Mormon, though—if you’re an equal-opportunity muckracker, i don’t think the charge of being anti-anything-specific can actually stick, you know?


Heather the Mama Duk said...

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

It's a pervasive assumption, though. Glenn Beck is repeatedly accused by listeners of being a Romney supporter. The thing is, he's NOT (and he does attack things Romney says and points out the problems with what he says). He has said Romney is not his guy repeatedly. He regularly points out issues he has with *all* the candidates and is very vocal about which candidate he supports. Yet people regularly say that he's supporting Romney. Glenn = Mormon and Romney = Mormon, therefore Glenn (or any other Mormon) = Romney.

David B said...

Not to mention that Nevada itself gives three magical words that pretty much disprove the claim:

     Harry. Mason. Reid.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, i rest my case.

The Margin Wight said...

Our Stake President told the membership not to talk to the Pew pollsters, but to refer them to the bishops so that there would be a "consistent response." That sounds pretty lock-step to me.

David B said...

@The Margin Wight: Really? Seems a bit weird to me, if only because there are more pollsters than just the Pew ones—and most pollsters wouldn’t follow such a referral anyway. It makes me wonder if your stake president’s counsel didn’t get garbled a bit in transmission.

The Margin Wight said...

It's possible there was garble, but it is also very much in character. He's an MBA who likes printed mottoes, stake slogans, making people memorize things. Once, during ward conference, he had the entire attending stake leadership stand and recite the stake scripture. It was painful to watch otherwise competent people trying to fake mumble their way through it.