We’re just months away from midterm elections. Soon after, we’ll have actual candidates in the 2016 presidential race. The search among politicians and journalists for a golden ticket — a key to understanding the ever-changing American voter — is on.
Last week, Fox News had its breakthrough: the Beyoncé voter.
Correspondent Jesse Watters coined the phrase while discussing Hillary Rodham Clinton’s critical response to the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case.
“She needs the single ladies’ vote. I call them ‘the Beyoncé voters,’ the single ladies. Obama won single ladies by 76 percent last time and made up about a quarter of the electorate,” he said, referencing Clinton’s chances.
Close enough: single ladies, a.k.a. unmarried women, actually voted for Obama at a rate of 67 percent, not 76 . But they do make up about a quarter (23 percent) of the voting population.
Tell us about these Beyoncé voters, Jesse.
“They depend on government because they’re not depending on their husbands. They need contraception, health care, and they love to talk about equal pay.”
He wasn’t talking about Beyoncé herself, of course. Although she’s a champion of single ladies everywhere, the woman named the world’s most powerful celebrity by Forbes and one of the most influential people by Time isn’t exactly depending on the government. Or her husband, whose annual earnings she more than doubles, per Forbes. (Though she does have a penchant for promoting equal pay!)
Watters only meant, he clarified on “The O’Reilly Factor” on Monday, the women who fit the characteristics of Beyoncé’s 2008 hit “Single Ladies.” Women who have yet to “put a ring on it” are more dependent on the government, he claimed.
“What I was trying to say is that I wasn’t talking about Beyoncé at all,” Watters said.
But what if, by some stretch of the pop culture imagination, Watters’s new buzzword really was the key to political victory? Not just the “single lady” Beyoncé voters — a term that clumsily lumps together unmarried women with an outdated musical reference — but all Beyoncé fans who vote.
Lucky for us, around the same time that Watters was defending his punditry on Fox News on Monday night, swarms of the “Beyhive” were descending on Baltimore to see their fearless leader in action with her husband, Jay Z. M&T Bank Stadium was the ideal place to ask: What do Beyoncé voters want?
Outside the stadium in the muggy July evening, fans rocked their most Bey-like outfits: neon crop tops and leather pants, skin-tight body suits and sky-high stilettos, body chains and jaw-drop-worthy bling. The occasional T-shirt wearers’ chests read “Surfbort” or “All Hail the Queen.”
They seemed to agree that Beyoncé’s music promotes looking your best but weren’t united on any kind of political agenda within the Queen’s music.
“She doesn’t even sing about politics, does she? It’s about family, love, sex; typical stuff,” said Tashia Bagwell, a 34-year-old single mom who brought her daughter to the concert.
Strutting past booths selling $40 tank tops and $12 Bud Lights, concertgoers decisively rejected Watters’s notion that Beyoncé voters are dependent on the government.
“Do you think the government bought my tickets?” said Donika Derden, 23, who paid $200 to see the show.
In response to questions about the issues that are most important to them, fans mentioned affordable education, immigration, abortion, a shaky economy and street safety in the Baltimore area.
One Beyoncé voter, Karstao LaBrew of South Carolina, fulfilled the prediction that single ladies are into talking about health care. But not, as Watters seemed to suggest, because she needs the government to pay for contraception.
“I have sick parents and I know that at a certain point when they have too many illnesses, it will be hard for insurance to cover all of those bills,” said LaBrew, who recently graduated from nursing school.
The fans also didn’t mention gender, the catalyst of the term Beyoncé voters. Fox’s Watters coined the phrase in the context of Clinton, saying that if she were to run, she would need Beyoncé voters on her side.
“I look at what the person is saying and doing,” said Charel Venable, a single lady of Baltimore. “Not what they are doing as in, whether they kiss the baby or whatever, but what their real actions are.”
Venable, 39, also admitted it doesn’t hurt if a candidate is good looking, male or female.
Many Beyoncé fans didn’t fit the mold of the Fox correspondent’s single lady description, “they depend on government because they’re not depending on their husbands,” because they did have husbands.
Voter Monica Talati of Arlington, Va., said that neither her husband, who wasn’t at the concert, nor Beyoncé influence her political views, but she still finds Beyoncé’s music empowering.
“You know when ‘Single Ladies’ comes on, I throw up my hand and I flash my ring and I dance to it like a single lady,” Talati said. “I mean, it’s just a song.”