Sunday, March 17, 2013

Personal experiences & political positions – A P.S. from Kevin Drum

Kevin Drum notices some interesting correlations:
Responding to Rob Portman's change of heart on gay marriage after he learned his son is gay [JW: see here], Anil Dash tweets:
Eventually one of these Republican congressmen is going to find out his daughter is a woman, and then we're all set.
Actually, this does make a difference. Remember this chart, showing how members of Congress vote on women's issues?  [....]

Sure, the effect is small, but among both Democrats and Republicans, members of Congress tend to vote better on women's issues if they have more daughters. [....]
The graph is intriguing, but it's hard to know how to assess it without knowing which "women's issues" are being identified and how they're being evaluated.  But then there's this:
Along the same lines, it's instructive to look at which Republicans in the Senate voted for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Personal experience makes a difference even here.
Bingo!  The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (closing a loophole that helped employers to escape legal accountability for discriminating against their female employees) passed the Senate in January 2009 with 61 votes in favor and 36 against (see here).  Basically, all the Democrats voted in favor (except for one abstention) and almost all the Republicans voted against.  But four Republican Senators did vote for the bill.  All of the Republican Senators who voted in favor were women ... and as far as I can tell, those four Senators were the only Republican women in the Senate in January 2009.  (It's also worth noting that the two Republican Senators from Texas split along gender lines: Kay Bailey Hutchison voted yea and John Cornyn voted nay.)  Coincidence?

—Jeff Weintraub