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Gender Gap Explained: Why More Men Will Be Voting This Year

4 years ago
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Politico's Ben Smith recently authored an interesting column, noting that a gender gap is largely responsible for the Republican "wave."

As Smith writes, there is an "enthusiasm gap, as well: "A Marist poll this month found 48 percent of Republican men called themselves "very enthusiastic" about voting, the most of any group; just 28 percent of Democratic woman said the same, with Republican women and Democratic men falling in the middle."

While the information revealed in the column was fascinating to me, the analysis seemed to rely on merely noting that men tend to be more conservative than women. As Smith writes:
Analysts cite a political climate that is apparently ineffably male - though the question of cause or effect is beyond the capability of polling.

... Doug Schoen, a centrist pollster who's worked for Bill Clinton, Michael Bloomberg and Charlie Crist, said grass-roots conservatism's focus on spending has less appeal to women.

"Fiscal conservatism appeals primarily and principally to men," he said. "Women are more concerned about a social safety net and less impacted by the movement to fiscal conservatism/tea party."
In my estimation, this analysis is true, but fails to fully explain the phenomenon.

To be sure, there has long been a gender gap in which men tend to skew Republican, while women tend to skew Democratic. And it is also true that this moment in time seems ripe for those who care about fiscal conservatism, and if more men than women care about that issue, it is reasonable to conclude men would be more motivated to vote this year.

But the truth is that men aren't just academically interested in fiscal conservatism this year -- they are emotionally invested in it -- and that explains the enthusiasm gap.

A New York Times column from last year may provide some clues:
The proportion of women who are working has changed very little since the recession started. But a full 82 percent of the job losses have befallen men, who are heavily represented in distressed industries like manufacturing and construction. Women tend to be employed in areas like education and health care, which are less sensitive to economic ups and downs, and in jobs that allow more time for child care and other domestic work.

If men are being hit dramatically harder than women by the recession, isn't it reasonable to conclude that men would be more motivated to vote this year?

Aside from the logic involved here, it's also important to note cultural reasons why losing a job may hit a man harder -- particularly a man living in a culturally conservative area. Because of traditional gender roles, it seems apparent that losing a job often negatively impacts a man's very identity.

In fact, a recent study demonstrated that men are more upset about losing a job than about a cheating spouse.

I'd say this is a highly emotional issue for out-of-work men, and I expect to see it translate into anti-Obama votes this November.
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Women as well as men are capable of understanding that wealth is generated by human activity rather than appearing by chance. All humans can understand that Democrat policies are focused on dividing rather than multiplying wealth. If you admire poverty and want more of it, vote Democrat.

September 27 2010 at 9:08 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

My wife, for one, is fired up to vote. And not for the Democrats.

September 27 2010 at 9:04 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I never realized that women tend to vote Democrat and men to vote Republician. If this is true, it could be because most women are more motherly, naturally, and concerned with cherishing and protecting, while men are more towards bringing home the bacon. In todays world, I think that a lot of women are also concerned with earning the next meal, while men probably just muddle along most of the time. It is good that there is interest in this upcoming election. It, imo, will be one of the two most important general elections in U.S. history, the second is the 2012 election. I believe voters were fooled by misdirection in 2010, and now having realized this, want to remedy their error. Election results will show how Americans really feel, polls are OK but don't count as votes. The present admin. just doesn't seem to listen nor care what voters think. They will be forced to listen to us, once we vote. Let them hear clearly what American voters want. All I can suggest is, get out and vote in November. It will be an important ballot.

September 27 2010 at 7:50 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Seems a bit simplistic. By your own analysis, women are more prone to be members of public sector unions, which would imply skewed to Democrats; aren't men also more prone to be entrepreneurs (I don't know, maybe I am wrong here; aren't men generally less risk-averse than women?) which again would imply skewed Republican. Now, people who resent being lied to and taken for granted, of either gender, I'd expect to be voting with "more enthusiasm" this time around.

September 27 2010 at 4:35 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to wrsyst's comment

Scientific facts: Men tend to have smaller vocabularies than women, mature more slowly and are easily distracted...guess that explains it...I know I'd have to shave off a few dozen IQ points, revert to the emotional state of a four year-ol and lose all focus in order to vote Republican.

September 27 2010 at 10:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Doug Schoen is no longer a centrist. He seems to have moved far to the right since moving to FOX NEWS. He has spoken only negatively of the President since the inauguration and is constantly criticizing the democrats.

September 27 2010 at 3:42 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ajcook111's comment

WHY NOT... if he disagrees with their Policies?

September 27 2010 at 5:23 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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