Obama Carries the Great State of Slate
Why we're telling you how we're voting.
Click here to see which presidential candidate your favorite Slatewriter is voting for.
Today, Slate'sstaff and contributors reveal how they're voting in next week's presidential election. This continues a tradition we began in 2000 and repeated in 2004. It will come as little surprise to many of our readers—and certainly as no surprise to Sarah "Media Elite" Palin—that Barack Obama won Slate in a landslide. In capturing 55 of our 57 votes, with 1 to McCain and 1 to Libertarian Bob Barr, Obama won an even bigger Slate majority than Al Gore in 2000 (29 of 37 votes) or John Kerry in 2004 (46 of 52 votes). Incidentally, this is a voluntary project: Our staff and contributors can reveal how they voted, but they are not required to.
My two predecessors as Slate's editor, Michael Kinsley and Jacob Weisberg, each wrote articles explaining why we reveal our votes. I don't have anything to add to their eloquent arguments, so please read Kinsley's 2000 piece here (mentally subbing "McCain" for "Bush" and "Obama" for "Gore"), and Weisberg's 2004 piece here ("McCain" for "Bush" and "Obama" for "Kerry").
Why did Obama win the swing state of Slate? Like Mike and Jacob before me, I don't think a candidate's Slate victory reflects a bias that has corrupted the magazine during the campaign. There are obvious reasons why Slate would lean heavily toward Obama: Most of our staff and contributors live in extremely Democratic cities on the East and West Coast. (It's worth noting that our lone McCain voter, Deputy Managing Editor Rachael Larimore, lives in Ohio.) Slate'svoters tend to skew young, and all polls show younger voters favoring the Democrat. Also, a significant number of former Slate contributors, among them Austan Goolsbee, Jason Furman, and Phil Carter, are now advising Obama. It's understandable that our affection for them and respect for their views may be accruing to Obama. (He's taking Jason and Austan's advice on the economy? Then he must be pretty smart.) And, finally, we are journalists, and, to quote Kinsley:
No doubt it is true that most journalists vote Democratic, just as most business executives (including most media owners) vote Republican, though neither tendency is as pronounced as their respective critics believe. This is a natural result of the sort of people who are attracted to various careers. It is not the product of any conspiracy. There is no Liberal Central Committee drafting young liberals into journalism against their will or blackballing young conservatives. And there is nothing that can be done to change this disparity, unless conservative press critics would like to see the media institute a political quota system, favoring conservatives over better-qualified liberals (affirmative action for opponents of affirmative action).
But—for the millionth time!—an opinion is not a bias! The fact that reporters tend to be liberal says nothing one way or another about their tendency to be biased. It does suggest that when political bias does creep in, it is more likely to tilt liberal than conservative. But there are so many other pressures and prejudices built into the news—including occasional overcompensation for fear of appearing biased—that raw political bias plays a fairly small role. …Of course it is not easy to persuade folks of this, and many will never believe it. No doubt it is easier just to keep your political opinions secret and imply that you don't have any. But that absurdity or dishonesty itself undermines your credibility. Or it ought to.
David Plotz is the Editor of Slate. He's the author of The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank and Good Book. He appears on Slate's Political Gabfest.