We all know by now that women are running for office like never before.
But did you know that women are also voting in higher numbers than men? In fact, we have been outvoting men in every presidential election since 1980, and the gap has only widened since then. Interestingly, the percentage increase in women voters is most evident in younger voters (18-24) and does not reverse until age 65.
So why is this? And also if women voted more than men in 2016 why did we end up with a president who is a proponent of policies that hurt women?
One explanation for the differential in women voting is that women deal with government in their day-to-day lives more than men do. Women are more likely to need safety-net services such as food stamps and child-care subsidies. But it’s not just the poor who deal with safety nets. As women, we are all the caretakers not only of children, but of our elderly and of community members who need help. So we are more aware of the IRL need for social services, making the outcomes of elections more close-to-home.
But why the large white women vote for Trump and other Republicans who oppose so many safety-net services?
First, the 2016 election was consistent with preceding years. Most white women without degrees backed the GOP presidential nominee in every presidential election since 2000. Second, for many women Trump was a “survival” choice: not just a way to please a more-conservative husband, but also a way to safeguard a perceived threat to their own economic security. For example, the wage gap has the real effect of privileging men’s careers, therefore yoking married white women’s (and their children’s) financial stability to their husbands’. For many women the 2016 election was a clear yet familiar choice: the stomaching of crude sexual antics in favor of food on the table.
And yet… things are changing.
It’s 2018, we are looking now at mid-term elections, and support for Trump among women has decreased significantly, even within his hardcore supporters of white women without college degrees. Compared to his 2016 vote, a recent Gallup poll shows a large decline in his 2017 approval rating among blue-collar white women in the Rustbelt – a stunning 18 percentage points in Ohio and 19 in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
It is clear that women have the power in the 2018 and 2020 elections.
It is up to us to make decisions that benefit our families both now and in the future.
We implore you to become an educated voter and to exercise your power.