Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Re-Running the Presidential Debates with the Genders Reversed

After watching the second televised debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in October 2016—a battle between the first female candidate nominated by a major party and an opponent who’d just been caught on tape bragging about sexually assaulting women—Maria Guadalupe, an associate professor of economics and political science at INSEAD, had an idea. Millions had tuned in to watch a man face off against a woman for the first set of co-ed presidential debates in American history. But how would their perceptions change, she wondered, if the genders of the candidates were switched?
The professors who staged this began by thinking their results would expose something about sexism in America. But that's not what the audience saw:
We heard a lot of “now I understand how this happened”—meaning how Trump won the election. People got upset. There was a guy two rows in front of me who was literally holding his head in his hands, and the person with him was rubbing his back. The simplicity of Trump’s message became easier for people to hear when it was coming from a woman—that was a theme. One person said, “I’m just so struck by how precise Trump’s technique is.” Another—a musical theater composer, actually—said that Trump created “hummable lyrics,” while Clinton talked a lot, and everything she was was true and factual, but there was no “hook” to it. Another theme was about not liking either candidate—you know, “I wouldn’t vote for either one.” Someone said that Jonathan Gordon [the male Hillary Clinton] was “really punchable” because of all the smiling. And a lot of people were just very surprised by the way it upended their expectations about what they thought they would feel or experience. There was someone who described Brenda King [the female Donald Trump] as his Jewish aunt who would take care of him, even though he might not like his aunt. Someone else described her as the middle school principal who you don’t like, but you know is doing good things for you.
Via Marginal Revolutions.


Unknown said...

This is absolutely fascinating and, as the audience reaction indicates, a little chilling. But I do think the personal style and self-presentation of the candidates--their "charisma" or lack thereof--matter a lot more than intellectuals and academics, who prefer finding social trends, like to admit.

G. Verloren said...

So did the reversal include a bit where the 70 year old female candidate was caught bragging about grabbing young men by the dick? If so, how did people respond? If not, why not?

szopen said...

probably because the bragging was not done during the debate, and they rehearsed ONLY the debate.

pootrsox said...

I wonder how the audience would have reacted to a recreation of the Town Hall style (hahahaha) debate, watching a female Trump stalk the male Clinton the way Trump did to Clinton in fact.