Voting gap shows women lean toward Democrats
If the Democratic Party wanted to maintain its dominance in Congress, focusing its attention toward motivating female voters may be an effective way.
The gender gap in voting shows there is a difference between the percentage of women and the percentage of men voting for a particular candidate, according to a Center for American Women and Politics press release. Women are more likely than men to support the Democratic candidate, despite the gender of the candidate.
"The reason why the gender gap exists is because women tend to see themselves as more economically vulnerable and that they need at some point in their lives the social safety net," said Debbie Walsh, director of CAWP. "[They need] public support for things like Social Security, Medicare [and] Medicaid. The Democratic Party is the party that is more likely to support those kinds of programs."
There was confusion in this year's midterm election, where people questioned why women were not supporting the several female candidates in the election, Walsh said. CAWP discovered it is not about whether the candidate is a woman but whether the candidate is a Republican.
"It's about women as voters and the impact of women voters have on the outcome of elections and the fact that women vote differently since 1980," Walsh said. "We've seen women voting differently than men since Ronald Reagan's election."
The philosophy of the Republican Party, exemplified in Reagan's presidency, is less government, while Democrats push for a larger role for government, Walsh said.
People believe women vote Democrat for social issues, like abortion, they are voting about their and their family's economic security, she said.
Women also vote at higher rates than men do, and there are more women than there are men, Walsh said. They not only are a larger percentage overall but a larger block of voters.
"The fact that they vote differently and at higher rates can really have an impact on the outcome of an election," she said.
There is an enthusiasm gap of women voting in the election, she said. The gap could cost the Democrats if they cannot get those women voters, particularly African-American and single women, to the polls.
"So that's where you've seen a lot of energy in the last couple of weeks of President [Barack] Obama going out to speak about women's economic conditions and economic equity issues," Walsh said.
A reason women are not voting is because Democrats in general this election are less enthusiastic compared to Republicans.
"The more conservative voters are very engaged and energized. I think that it is the vote that has been between the tea party and all of the activity on that side," Walsh said. "Sometimes it's easier to be the party out of power, you have something you can run against."
CAWP looked at the different statewide polls from various sources and compared the two different candidates from each state, she said. The center looked at the leading candidates and compared the voting percentage of men and women. The difference in points is the gender gap.
There are some female University students that would vote for a Democratic candidate in an election as opposed to a Republican.
"If there were a female Republican versus a male Democrat, I would vote for the Democrat just because I'm more inclined to those views," said Kemaly Khan, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. "Like health care is a main issue now."
Other University students familiarize with the issues Democrats fight for.
"The Democratic Party does pay more attention to [women's issues]," said Julie Chatzinoff, a School of Arts and Sciences senior. "That's a really big generalization, but as someone who cares about women's rights, I vote Democrat."