Men and Women Voters: How Gender Affects the Election

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Men and women voters demonstrate some differences in focus in the upcoming election. Image by labdog2010

Gallup, a widely trusted source of political polling, recently declared that men, more than women, are fueling the gender gap in the 2012 elections.

Men favor Republican candidate Mitt Romney by 14 percentage points over women, while women favor President Obama by 8 percent.

By contrast, in 2008, Obama had a 14% lead among women, so what’s going on with the gender gap in politics?

The Gender Factor and Social Issues

Compared to the 2008 election, Gallup reports that Romney appears to be more in tune with men’s concerns.

Overall, men list jobs, the economy, the deficit, health care and taxes as their five top concerns.

Women, on the other hand, include abortion and equal rights along with jobs, the economy and healthcare.

President Obama polls more strongly on social issues with a 26 percentage point lead on stands such as abortion and gay rights.

Gender and the Deficit and Health Care

Women are less likely to mention the federal deficit when listing their top concerns, but they are more likely to mention health care – and Obama is considered stronger on health care.

Men list the deficit among their top five concerns – a concern that favors Romney.  US History.org states “[p]olls indicate that many issues about which women feel most strongly, such as education and health care, are more favorably addressed by the Democratic Party. “

Women report having more days of poor physical and mental health than men, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration, which may account in part for their increased concern about health care.

Gender and Equal Pay

Historically, women have favored Democrats since the 1960s.  According to US History.org, “[m]ost observers believe that women think the Democrats more strongly support “women’s issues,” such as equal work, equal pay, and equal legal rights.”

While women gained half of the jobs created in recent months, the wage gap remains largely unchanged at 77 cents to every male dollar.  As noted by sociologist Benita Roth, “women often find themselves working toward their own liberation as women as they extend meaningful categories of liberation to cover liberation from gender oppression. But they do not always bring their male comrades with them on the journey.”  Equal pay remains on the political agenda of groups such as the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

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