Political polarization and gender gap: I don’t get Romer’s beef.

Gur Huberman writes:

Current politics + statistical analysis, the Paul Romer v. 538 edition: https://paulromer.net/more-to-the-gender-gap/

Economist Paul Romer is criticizing a news article by Perry Bacon, Jr. entitled, “The Biggest Divides On The Kavanaugh Allegations Are By Party — Not Gender.”

My reaction:

I don’t get Romer’s beef. Bacon’s article seems reasonable to me: He (Bacon) lists a bunch of opinion questions where the difference between Democrats and Republicans is much bigger than the difference between men and women. This is no surprise at all. I doubt that Bacon thought this was a particularly newsworthy finding; rather, he’s doing the sort of “dog bites man” reporting, reminding us a huge something—in this case, partisan polarization—that’s out there. In response, Romer does a bunch of throat-clearing about the importance of what he’s about to say, and then . . . says that the partisan comparison isn’t appropriate because it excludes independents (fine, but then you could include “leaners” to the partisans and I’d expect you’d get similar results as what Bacon reported for the pure partisans), and then he pulls out one question where the gender gap is larger than the partisan gap. But that’s just one question, so I don’t see how it renders “objectively false” Bacon’s statement that, “Even on gender issues more broadly, the partisan divide outstretches the gender one.” Romer might be right that Bacon’s claim is wrong, but to assess that claim you’d have to look at more than one issue.

I think Romer’s post would be stronger without the rhetoric: It would be fine to say that Bacon is making a commonplace point (not a problem, as sometimes we have to remind people of things that the experts already know) and then for Romer to add some subtleties such as in that one question where the gender gap is particularly strong.