“With all due respect, you’re a filthy, disgusting, racist pig.”
The email went to Dave Woodard and reflects the messages the Clemson University pollster has been getting since he conducted an exit poll during the Nov. 4 election that included racially charged questions.
Woodard, who is white, worked with University of South Carolina graduate student Paul White, who is black, to design an exit poll to see whether race plays a role in how S.C. voters — specifically, conservatives — cast their ballots.
South Carolina’s two Republican U.S. senators, Lindsey Graham (white) and Tim Scott (black), offered the perfect testing ground, Woodard thought. “You almost never get two senators running on the same day, and you for sure never get two senators — one black, one white,” he said.
The survey asked softball questions about voters’ ages, their top issues and which candidates they picked.
Interspersed, every few questions, came the whammies, in the form of racially charged statements.
Voters were asked to agree or disagree:
• “Blacks are getting too demanding in their push for equal rights. ... It’s really a matter of some people not trying hard enough; if blacks would only try harder, they could be as well off as whites.”
• “Over the past few years, blacks have gotten less than they deserve. ... Generations of slavery and discrimination have created conditions that make it difficult for blacks to work their way out of the lower class.”
One volunteer conducting the survey had a woman ball it up and throw it in the trash, White said, adding he ran the questions by his thesis director and others before including them.
The statements commonly are used in social science research designed to gauge where people stand on racial issues, said White, a self-described “scholar of race” and Southern politics.
“We can talk about this stuff, guys!” he said. “It’s 2014. We’ve got to try to talk about this.”
When the dust settles, White hopes to get a job as a political scientist after finishing his doctoral degree.
Woodard said he has done his first – and last – exit poll, but he’s excited about what the data holds. (The results are not complete.)
Scott’s victory — he was the highest GOP vote-getter among S.C. Republicans who had a major-party opponent — challenges old narratives about voters being motivated by race, Woodard said.
“I’m not saying they’re totally color blind. Come on!” he added. “This is South Carolina. But they are much more color blind than people give them credit.”
Education lingo pop quiz!
The Buzz said: “Define metacognition.”
Molly Spearman, the state’s incoming education chief, said she knew immediately that “cognition means something about knowledge.”
But she had to “Google” the word’s definition to see it means an “awareness of knowledge” and how that knowledge applies to the person doing the thinking.
(Outgoing state schools chief Mick Zais was unavailable to take The Buzz’s quiz Friday.)
Asked why that 75-cent word would appear 40 times in a draft version of the state’s next standards on how to teach public-school students to read and write, Spearman responded playfully: “Probably because teachers are smarter than I am.”
“But,” she added, “maybe it means that we need to take a look at using language that more folks can understand.”
The standards probably need to be “streamlined” and simplified, she said, but likely contain concepts and language that educators know.
A state Department of Education spokesman said the word “metacognition” appears a lot because parts of the standards repeat. Really, “metacognition” appears only three times for each grade, he added. The spokesman also said the words would be familiar to people in the English language arts community.
Soon, state education leaders will have to thumbs up or thumbs down to the new standards, which the S.C. General Assembly ordered this year as a replacement to the Common Core education standards.
The English standards’ authors, a group of state educators who volunteered to complete the task, now are seeking public input for the standards, which must be in place for the 2014-15 school year. A survey is available online at the State Department of Education’s website.
The standards’ authors looked to Common Core and other states’ standards for inspiration. There are traces of the Common Core throughout. But Common Core lacks a lot of the academic jargon that is in the homegrown S.C. standards in the works, The Buzz noticed.
Another stumper that appears 78 times in the state’s newly drafted standards, in slightly different variations? Students should be able to “transact” with texts.
Buzz is not sure what that means.
(Or if Buzz wants to know.)
GOP for gay marriage? A group of young Republicans is coming to the Palmetto State with hopes of winning over GOP hearts to allow same-sex marriage. Part of a $1 million campaign, the Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry will stop in the Upstate, Columbia and Charleston on Dec. 2-3 to push for two changes to the Republican Party’s platform: removing “anti-gay, anti-marriage” language and adding more “unifying” language that recognizes marriage is good for everyone. The ultimate goal is to overturn state marriage bans. Supporters of the group include Abby Huntsman and Megan McCain, daughters of former GOP presidential hopefuls Jon Huntsman and John McCain.
Musical chairs in Haley camp. Gov. Nikki Haley went on a trade mission to India this week and took some staffers with her: her legislative director Katherine Veldran and Rob Godfrey, her now-former deputy campaign manager who before that was her official spokesman. Godfrey’s new Haley-office job is “project-based employee.” Godfrey was hired to help Haley with media relations on the trip, Haley spokesman Doug Mayer said. (Hey, governor! Buzz needs a trip, too!)
Reporter Andrew Shain contributed.