Stateside,  Vote 2012,  Women's Rights

The gender chasm

The Pew Research Center conducted a poll earlier this month that found President Obama leading Mitt Romney by 49 percent to 45 percent in this year’s presidential election (other polls have had it closer).

But among one group of voters, Obama’s lead was an astounding 70 percent to 25 percent. No, it wasn’t National Public Radio listeners or latte drinkers or Volvo drivers. It was women age 18 to 29.

Among all women, Obama leads by 53 percent to 40 percent, while men favor Romney by 50 percent to 44 percent.

No single reason accounts for this. For several decades now, Democrats have had a distinct advantage over Republicans when it comes to female voters. Some commentators, rather simplistically, have called the Democrats “the mommy party” because of their supposed stronger emphasis on nurturing, and the Republicans “the daddy party” because of their alleged stronger commitment to security.

Among young women, it probably didn’t help the Republicans when they stumbled this year into making not just abortion, but contraception, an issue.

Sarah Palin’s “mama grizzlies” shtick doesn’t seem to be winning over this demographic either.

The bad news in the poll for a Democrat like me is Obama’s weak performance among low-income white voters, especially men. A stronger economy would drive up his support among these voters, but probably not by much. I suppose the perceived cultural (and to some extent, racial) differences between Obama and these voters are still deeply felt. On the other hand, Romney doesn’t exactly come across as an icon of the working class.

Another factor is the decline in the percentage of workers who are members of labor unions. According to a poll for the AFL-CIO, Obama in 2008 beat John McCain “among white men who are union members by 18 percentage points, while losing white male votes overall by 16 points.” This helps explain the efforts of many Republicans to essentially create a union-free America.

Update: Phil writes in the comments:

I don’t quite know how to explain this but there seems a directly inverse situation in the UK on the gender chasm – certainly in London.

According to the latest poll, Livingstone has a 16 point deficit among women, yet leads among men.

Any ideas how to explain this? Couldn’t have anything to do with embracing misogynistic Islamist preachers, could it?

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