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Voting the Gender Gap

Voting the Gender Gap

Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Voting the Gender Gap
    Book Description:

    This book concentrates on the gender gap in voting--the difference in the proportion of women and men voting for the same candidate. Evident in every presidential election since 1980, this polling phenomenon reached a high of 11 percentage points in the 1996 election. The contributors discuss the history, complexity, and ways of analyzing the gender gap; the gender gap in relation to partisanship; motherhood, ethnicity, and the impact of parental status on the gender gap; and the gender gap in races involving female candidates. Voting the Gender Gap analyzes trends in voting while probing how women's political empowerment and gender affect American politics and the electoral process._x000B__x000B_Contributors are Susan J. Carroll, Erin Cassese, Cal Clark, Janet M. Clark, M. Margaret Conway, Kathleen A. Dolan, Laurel Elder, Kathleen A. Frankovic, Steven Greene, Leonie Huddy, Mary-Kate Lizotte, Barbara Norrander, Margie Omero, and Lois Duke Whitaker.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09285-5
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    The importance of voting in free and fair elections to maintain successful representative democracies is stressed in the classic texts of democratic theory.¹ Social scientists, using survey research data, have established a solid body of literature examining voting behavior and the results/consequences of American elections. Beginning with the 1980 presidential election, scholars and journalists first noticed a gender gap in American voting behavior. For the purposes of this book, the “gender gap” is defined as the difference in the proportion of women and the proportion of men voting for any given candidate.

    Why is the gender gap important to American...

  6. 1 The History of the Gender Gaps
    (pp. 9-32)

    Recent election outcomes have often been couched in gender terms. termsThe “security moms” of the 2004 election replaced the “soccer moms” of the 1996 contest. The 1992 election, after which the number of women in the U.S. House of Representatives grew from twenty-eight to forty-seven, was dubbed the “Year of the Woman.” Men have not been left out of these interpretations, and the Republican victory in the 1994 congressional election was linked to the “angry white male.” The notion that men and women would react differently to electoral politics is not something that always existed. Most of the early research...

  7. 2 Women and the Polls: Questions, Answers, Images
    (pp. 33-49)

    America’s public opinion polls serve as cultural indicators of what kinds of questions are important and acceptable in journalistic discourse. They tell us about what the journalistic elite cares, what is acceptable language to use when engaging the public, and what the elite expectations are about what the public knows and cares. In these ways, “the polls” define the image we have of women. They state which women matter, they create an image of women by deciding what should be asked about them, and they provide the data that allow news organizations to categorize women. Reports of pollbased data put...

  8. 3 The Reemergence of the Gender Gap in 2004
    (pp. 50-74)

    The “gender gap,” in which women vote for Democratic candidates to a significantly greater extent than men do, seemingly became a permanent feature of the political landscape in the United States during the last two decades of the twentieth century. As indicated in Table 3.1, this difference in voting of approximately eight to ten percentage points first appeared in the 1980 presidential election, although the underlying gap in partisan identification had grown more slowly and gradually starting in the 1960s.¹ Subsequently, it marked all presidential contests during the last two decades of the twentieth century, with the largest gaps of...

  9. 4 Security Moms and Presidential Politics: Women Voters in the 2004 Election
    (pp. 75-90)

    A gender gap, defined as the absolute difference between the proportion of women and the proportion of men voting for the winning candidate, was clearly evident in the 2004 presidential election. The nationwide exit poll conducted by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International showed that 48 percent of women compared with 55 percent of men had voted for George W. Bush, resulting in a gender gap of seven percentage points.

    The 2004 gender gap was neither the largest (eleven percentage points in voting for Bill Clinton in 1996) nor the smallest (four percentage points in voting for Bill Clinton in...

  10. 5 Women Voters, Women Candidates Is There a Gender Gap in Support for Women Candidates?
    (pp. 91-107)

    Over the past twenty-five years or so, gender gaps have been visible in many different aspects of American politics—for example, party identification, vote choice for president, and public opinion on policy issues. These gaps have been present for a good period of time and, although the size of the gap between women and men on any particular political concern can ebb and flow, their direction is fairly stable. Since the 1980s, women in the United States tend to be more likely to identify themselves as Democrats than men, vote for Democratic presidential candidates in higher proportions than men, and...

  11. 6 Using Exit Polls to Explore the Gender Gap in Campaigns for Senate and Governor
    (pp. 108-118)

    Being a political pollster, I regularly ask voters in focus groups and surveys to describe how they make voting decisions and political judgments. In much the way people make other judgments, voters use shortcuts to make sense of the political landscape around them. For example, voters might lament that all elected officials are “liars,” or “crooked,” or “in the pocket of special interests,” with “special interests” referring mainly to organizations with which respondents disagree. And although voters often admit that they should “check the record” of their elected officials to see exactly how they vote, they usually use heuristics such...

  12. 7 Parenthood and the Gender Gap
    (pp. 119-140)

    Becoming a parent and raising children is one of the most life-changing and enduring adult experiences. Having a child and taking on the role of parent may very well bring about changes in one’s political outlook and priorities, and these effects may be mediated by gender. Despite significant changes in gender roles in the latter half of the twentieth century, women and men continue to play different roles in the parenting and child-rearing process, with women more likely to be the primary caregivers and nurturers. Some feminist theorists and political scientists have theorized that women’s role as mothers and greater...

  13. 8 Sources of Political Unity and Disunity among Women: Placing the Gender Gap in Perspective
    (pp. 141-169)

    The gender gap has become a staple feature of the political landscape during the past several decades. Women have consistently voted in greater numbers than men for Democratic presidential and congressional candidates since the early 1980s.¹ They have also expressed greater identification with the Democratic Party over the same time period.² In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan polarized the genders more than other recent presidents had, which carried over into gender polarization on party identification, resulting in the widely broadcast notion of a “gender gap.”³

    But women’s political commonality is far from pervasive. Although women are more inclined than men to...

  14. 9 The Gender Gap: A Comparison across Racial and Ethnic Groups
    (pp. 170-184)

    The term “gender gap” has been used to describe differences between men and women in vote choice, voter turnout, other types of political participation, policy preferences, and public opinion differences. Regardless of the topic studied, almost all research focusing on the United States has examined the gender gap either exclusively among whites or just within the white and African American groups. In part this paucity of research can be attributed to the small numbers of minority group members included in most national surveys. Only a few studies have expanded analysis of the political gender gap to include Hispanics, Asian Americans,...

  15. Conclusion: When Women Vote, Are Women Empowered?
    (pp. 185-190)

    This book has explored the gender gap in voting and the differences found in men and women in issue preferences, candidate choice, and partisan association. As we have seen from the articles in this volume, and certainly other scholarly studies bear this out, the gender gap is influenced by many societal, demographic, and regional factors; varies from one race to another based on issues, candidates, political parties, and so on; and thus is a complex issue to isolate and draw firm conclusions that withstand the test of time. As Niemi and Weinberg contend, “It must be admitted that we do...

  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 191-206)
  17. Contributors
    (pp. 207-210)
  18. Index
    (pp. 211-217)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 218-221)