Carroll+and+Fox+Ch+4+9.20.10

Carroll+and+Fox+Ch+4+9.20.10 - 1 16 Susan A, MacMah 25 26...

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Unformatted text preview: 1 16 Susan A, MacMah 25 26 27 28 29 3O 31 32 33 34 35 36 "Carol Jenkins 8- Glennda Testone: The Women's Media Center," DeCem 5, 2008. feministingcom. <http://www.feministing.com/archives/012‘ .html> December 22, 2008. ' Carla Marinucci. November I, 2008. Campaign '08 Nears Its CliffhangerkckI clusion. San Francisco Chronicle. 3, Rasmussen. September 10, 2008. 69% Say Reporters Try to Help; Candidate They Want to Win. <http://Www.rasmussenreports.com/pubh content/politics/e1ection.20082/2008.presidentiaLelection/G9_say_reponers» try.to.he1p_the_candidate_they_want_to_win> December 22, 2008. Alexander Mooney. McCain Ad Compares Obama to Britney Spears, pafis Hilton. CNN.com. <http://cnn.com> December 22, 2008. ‘ CBS. Paris Hilton Responds to McCain in New Video. <http://sztv.com/ national/parishilton.commercial.2.78865l.html> December 22, 2008. Kate Kaye. Web Ads Mattered More Than Ever in '08 Election. <http‘:/ www.clickz.com> November 4, 2008. ‘ Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. October 2008. Women’s Trackin Survey: Unmarried Women Driving a New American Electorate. <http://y www.wvwv.org/research-items/women—s—tracking—survey> December 20 * 2008. Nikki Schwab. November 7, 2008. In Obama-McCain Race, YouTube Became a Serious Battleground for Presidential Politics. US. News 61 World Report. Jessica Ramirez. November 10, 2008. The Big Picture. Newsweek Web Exclu- I sive. <http://www.newsvveek.com/id/168269> December 20, 2008. Nikki Schwab. November 7, 2008. In Obama-McCain Race, YouTube Became a Serious Battleground for Presidential Politics. U.S. News d W0er Report. 7 Kaye (see supra note 30). "Joe The Plumber” was an Ohio plumber named Joe Wurzelbacher. During 7 an Obama campaign appearance, Wurzelbacher complained that Obama’s proposal to raise taxes on people making more than $250,000 a year, while cutting taxes on everyone else, would prevent him from purchasing the plumbing company that employed him. McCain then held up Joe as a real life example of what was wrong with the Obama tax plan. "He [Obama] wants the government to take J oe’s money and give it to someone else. His hard-eamed tax dollars. We’re not going to stand for that,” said McCain. Joe then became the centerpiece of numerous McCain campaign ads attacking Obama’s tax plan and accusing him of planning to redistribute wealth in Amenca. CBS/Associated Press. October 16, 2008. Campaigns Battle Over ’Joe The Plumber“, <www.cbsnews.com/stones/2008/10/16/politics/2008debatesl main4526503.shtml> July 28, 2009. W ' SUSAN J. CARROLL voting Choices The Politics of the Gender Gap women voters have received special attention from the presidential can- didates in recent elections primarily because of differences between women and men in their political preferences, a phenomenon commonly referred to as the gender gap. Statistically, a gender gap can be defined as the difference in the proportion of women and the proportion of men who support a particular politician, party, or policy position. In the 2008 election, Senator Barack Obama received 56 percent of women’s votes compared with 49 percent of men’s, resulting in a gender gap of seven percentage points. A gender gap in voting has been evident in every general election for president since 1980. In each of the previous eight presidentialvelec- tions, a greater proportion of women than men have voted for the Demo- cratic candidate. In 2004, when Republican President George W. Bush was reelected, 51 percent of women compared with only 44 percent of men cast their votes for his Democratic opponent, Senator John Kerry. Bush received just 48 percent of women’s votes but 55 percent of men’s, resulting in a gender gap of seven percentage points — the same size as in 2008.1 Prior to the 1980 election, it was widely believed that women and men took similar positions on most issues, had similar political prefer- ences, and voted in much the same ways. In other words, the assump— tion before 1980 was that gender did not matter much in voting. Today the assumption is exactly the opposite - gender does matter for politics, and women and men, in the aggregate, have different positions on many issues and tend to vary in their party identification and support for polit— ical candidates. The gender gap is now viewed as an enduring part of the political landscape, and candidates, parties, and politicians must pay Specific attention to women voters if they want to win elections. 117 118 Susan J. Carroll This chapter begins with an overview of the role that women Voters and the gender gap played in the 2008 presidential elections. It then traces the origins of and explores possible explanations for the gender gap. It also examines the strategies candidates have employed in attempting to appeal to women voters. The gender gap has led to increased political influence for women, although that influence has been somewhat tern- pered by the fact that candidates have often used symbolic appeals, rather than strictly issue—based appeals, to respond to the growing influence of women voters. WOMEN VOTERS AND THE 2008 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION Women voters received more attention in 2008 than in any previous elec~ tion, and the candidacy of Senator Hillary Clinton was perhaps the major reason. Clinton did not win her party’s nomination for president and was not a candidate in the general election, but throughout her many months of campaigning for the Democratic nomination, Clinton attracted strong support from women voters. While the gender gap has become a recurring feature of the elec- toral landscape in general elections for president, gender gaps are seldom seen in primary elections where candidates of the same party face off against each other and policy differences are generally small. In such elec- tions, women and men tend to divide their support and votes among the candidates in similar proportions. For example, several candidates vied for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, including Senator John McCain, Governor Mitt Romney, Governor Mike Huckabee, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Senator Fred Thompson, and Representative Ron Paul. Polls showed that women and men supported each of these candidates in roughly equal proportions. The fact that Hillary Clinton attracted stronger support from women than from men in a primary election was thus an exception to the rule. Throughout the 2007 preprimary period and throughout the Democratic primaries in 2008, a gender gap was evident in support for her can- didacy. For example, a national poll conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press in late November 2007, just a few weeks before the primaries began, found that, among likely Democratic voters, 52 percent of women, compared with 42 percent of men, sup- ported Hillary Clinton over the other candidates. Similarly, Pew polls con- ducted at about the same time with likely Democratic voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina — the first three states to hold caucuses and primaries in early 2008 — found gender gaps in Clinton’s support in Voting Choices 119 each of these three states, with women more likely than men to support Clinton.2 As 2008 proceeded and various state primaries were held, gender gaps in support for Hillary Clinton were evident in voting in state after state. Clinton won some state primaries and caucuses while she lost others, but regardless of whether she won or lost, in most states, Clinton drew stronger support from women than from men. Two of the earliest pri- maries were New Hampshire, on January 8, 2008, which Clinton won, and South Carolina, on January 29, which she lost to Obama by a sizeable margin. Yet gender gaps were evident in support for Clinton in both pri- maries. In New Hampshire, the exit poll showed that Clinton won 46 per- cent of women’s votes but only 29 percent of men’s, for a seventeen- point gender gap. In South Carolina, only 30 percent of women voted for Clinton, but even fewer men — 23 percent — did, for a seven-point gender gap. Contests that were held later in the year showed a similar pattern of greater support for Clinton among women than men, regardless of the outcome of the election. For example, Clinton lost the Wisconsin primary on February 19 with a nineteen-point gender gap and won the Pennsyl- vania primary on April 22 with a ten-point gender gap.3 The gender gap evident in support for Clinton was not primarily due to issue differences between Clinton and Obama or the other Democratic contenders. For the most part, Clinton and Obama took very similar positions on issues. Their main differences were on health care, where Obama’s plan was not quite as comprehensive as Clinton’s, and the war in Iraq, where Clinton, as a U.S. senator, had voted to authorize the war while Obama, who was not in the U.S. Senate at the time, had opposed it. Nevertheless, both candidates pledged to end the war in Iraq and shared a common goal of providing health-care coverage to the vast majority of Americans. Polls showed that most Democratic voters liked the issue stances of both Clinton and Obama and would have been satisfied to have either candidate as their party’s nominee. Because there were not major differences between Clinton and Obama on the issues, it seems likely that Clinton’s greater support among women was related to her gender. Many Dem0cratic women supported Clinton because they liked her issue positions (just as they liked Obama’s) and because they wanted to see a woman in the White House. When John Edwards dropped out at the end of January 2008, the race for the Democratic presidential nomination became a two-person contest. Because Hillary Clinton attracted stronger support from women than from men, this meant that the opposite was true for her opponent, Barack Obama, who was supported by greater proportions of men than 120 Susan J. Carroll 2 of women. Thus, when it became clear that Clinton was going to lose her bid for her party's nomination, it also became clear that Obama, as the Democratic nominee, needed to shore up his support among Democratic women voters. On June 7, 2008, after the last primary was held, Hillary Clinton an- nounced that she would suspend her campaign, thus officially ending her bid for the Democratic nomination. The Obama campaign jingle- diately stepped up efforts to win over women voters who had SUprr- ted Clinton. Obama’s campaign seemingly employed a three~pronged strategy to do so. As the first prong, Obama emphasized his personal narrative — that women in his family had played a critical role in his own personal development. For example, on June 23 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Obama explained: I would not be standing before you today as a candidate for pres- ident of the United States if it weren’t for working women. I am here because of my mother, a single mom who put herself through school. . . .I am here because of my grandmother, who helped raise me. . . .And I am here because of my Wife, Michelle, the rock of the Obama family.4 As a second prong of his strategy to win over the women who had supported Clinton, Obama emphasized issue differences between himself and theRepublican nominee, John McCain, that he thought would be particularly appealing to key segments of women voters. Obama occa- sionally highlighted his pro—choice position on the abortion issue in con- trast to that of John McCain, who is pro—life. But mostly he tried to appeal to women on the basis of economic issues. Obama talked about the eco- nomic struggles working parents face and, in particular, discrimination against women in the workplace. In July, he announced an economic security plan targeted at working women that would "give a tax cut to 71 million working women, guarantee seven days of paid sick leave for 22 million additional women, and make Child care more affordable for 7.5 million working mothers."5 Obama and his campaign also highlighted McCain’s opposition to the Fair Pay Restoration Act, a bill (later passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in early 2009) to allow women facing pay discrimination to seek back wages and damages at the point that they became aware of the discrimination rather than only within 180 days of their hiring, as a 2007 Supreme Court decision had required. To reinforce this message, the Obama campaign ran ads in several states claiming that McCain opposed equal pay for equal work for women. Voting Choices 121 The third prong of Obama’s effort to win the backing of women vot- erg who supported Hillary Clinton was to have well-known women cam- paign on his behalf around the country. Of course, the most notable and perhaps the most effective was Clinton herself. Less than one month after she suspended her campaign, Clinton appeared with Obama at a rauy in Unity, New Hampshire. She then continued to campaign for Obama throughout the general election, urging her former supporters to throw their support behind Obama. Obama also had other prominent political and nonpolitical women campaigning on his behalf, including Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, Caroline Kennedy, Michelle Obama, and even Oprah Winfrey. As the Republican nominee, John McCain also attemptedlto appeal to women voters, especially targeting those women who might have been disappointed at Hillary Clinton’s defeat. Throughout the summer of 2008, before he was officially nominated, but after he had become the presumptive Republican nominee, McCain began making overtures to women. He and his campaign surrogates praised Hillary Clinton once She was out of the race in an attempt to attract any of her supporters who might have been disaffected with the Obama campaign. McCain appeared on television shows with predominantly female audiences, such as The View and Ellen. His most prominent female supporter, Carly Fior— ina, former chief executive officer of Hewlett—Packard, traveled around the country on his behalf. McCain seemed to focus his efforts most intensively on women who were small—business owners. When asked in July what he would do to win over more women voters, McCain responded: I don't have a specific policy at the moment, except. . .my support of small business and the fact that I will not raise people’s taxes. One of the greatest areas of participation of women in America is small business.6 McCain’s most significant attempt to attract women voters, especially disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters, was his selection of Sarah Palin as his vice presidential nominee. The day after the Democratic National Convention ended, McCain did the unexpected, choosing a woman as his running mate. The hope that Governor Sarah Palin might appeal to women voters was not McCain’s only reason for choosing her. Like McCain, Palin had a reputation as a reformer and a maverick, and consequently she could help to underscore those themes of the McCain Campaign. She was very popular among social conservatives and thus 122 Susan J. Carroll », could help shore up McCain’s support with the right wing of his party . Nevertheless, there is little doubt that McCain hoped his Vice presidentiaj ' choice would help to persuade some disaffected Hillary Clinton voters as well as more moderate and independent women voters who had n0t ya fully made up their minds about how to vote in the November election Despite the fact that Palin was subjected to intense media scrutier and criticism, as Carroll and Dittmar document in Chapter 2 of this Vol. ume, the choice of Palin did provide the McCain campaign with a burst of energy and a short—term surge in the polls. A Washington Post—ABC News poll, conducted shortly after the Republican convention, found that Obama and McCain were essentially tied.7 The poll also showed that McCain had made substantial gains among white women, althOugh other polls conducted at about the same time did not show a big shift.8 But even if the strategy of putting a woman on the ticket — one who was ideologically to the right of most women voters — to attract women voters worked in the short term, it failed over the longer term. In the end, issues and policy positions mattered more to women voters than did the gender of the Vice presidential candidate. As the economy eroded over the course of the fall, so, too, did public support for John McCain and Republican candidates more generally. On Election Day, the majority of women voters opted for Barack Obama and a new direction for the country. Nevertheless, the 2008 election was one in which the votes of women received more attention than in any previous election. Hillary Clinton came close to winning the Democratic nomination in large part because of the strong support she received from women voters. Her candidacy drew initial attention to women voters and their significance in the 2008 election. And once Clinton exited the race, the two remaining candi- dates, Obama and McCain, both vied for the support of women who had voted for Clinton in the Democratic primaries as well as the support of other independent and moderate women who had not yet made their choices. In the end, Obama prevailed, winning 56 percent of women’s votes, and was elected president by a healthy margin in large part because his message and policy proposals resonated more with women than did McCain’s. THE ORIGINS OF THE GENDER GAP In Chapter 3 of this volume, Susan A. MacManus describes the suffrage movement that led to the addition of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1920, granting women the right to vote. Over the course voting Choices 123 of the several decades that it took to win the right to vote, suffragists used a variety of arguments to win support from different segments of the all—male electorate and political structure. Some approaches stressed fundamental similarities between women and men and demanded the Vote for women as a matter of simple justice. Suffragists observed that Women were human beings just as men were, and therefore women, like men, were created equal and had an inalienable right to political equality and thus the vote. However, suffragists also used arguments that focused on how women were different from men and would use their votes to help make the world a better place. Suffragists claimed that women’s experiences, espe— daily their experiences as mothers and caregivers, gave them special values and perspectives that would be readily apparent in their voting decisions. They argued that women would use their votes to stop wars, promote peace, clean up government, ban the sale of liquor, and bring justice to a corrupt world. The use of such arguments led some people to eagerly anticipate and others to greatly fear the consequences of women’s enfranchisement. Many observers at the time expected women to go to the polls in large numbers and thought that their distinctive impact on politics would be immediately apparent. However, the right to vote, in and of itself, proved insufficient to bring about a distinctive women’s vote. Rather, a women’s vote would emerge only decades later after other changes in society and women's perceptions of themselves took place. In the elections imme— diately following women’s enhanchisement in 1920, women voted in much lower numbers than men, and there were few signs that women were voting much differently than men were or using their votes to express a distinctive perspective. As the decades passed after 1920, it seemed that the women’s vote, feared by some and longed for by others, would never materialize. How- ever, by the early 1980s, a sufficient number of women finally achieved the social and psychological independence necessary to bring about a divergence in the voting patterns of women and men. In the decades since 1980, the women’s vote promised by the suffragists has finally arrived, although with underlying issues and dynamics somewhat different from those anticipated during the suffrage era. In the decades between 1920 and 1980, the vast majority of women, particularly white women,9 remained economically dependent on men, not necessarily by choice but because society offered them few options. As a result, women’s political interests were very intertwined with, even inseparable from, the political interests of men, and for the most part, 124 Susan J. Cam)" women did not make political decisions that differed from those made by men. However, since the 1960s and 19705, women's dependence on men L" has begun to unravel, and as this unraveling has taken place, women” ‘ have started making political choices that are more independent of men's wishes and interests. At least three critical developments over the past several decades have contributed to the increased independence of women from men and r ’7 have made possible the emergence of a distinctive women’s vote. The first is the fact that, for a variety of reasons, including higher divorce rates and longer life spans, more women are living apart from men, often heading households on their own. The second development is that more women have achieved professional and managerial positions that, even when they live with men, provide them with sufficient incomes to support themselves and allow them a substantial degree of finan- cial independence from men. The third critical development that has contributed to the increased independence of women from men is the contemporary women’s movement, which began with the founding of the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966 and the devel- opment of women’s liberation groups around the country in 1967 and 1968. Although even today a majority of women in American society do not call themselves feminists, the women’s movement has changed the way most women in the United States see themselves and their life options. Most women now recognize that they have concerns and interests that are not always identical to those of the men in their lives, and they are aware that these concerns can be relevant to their political choices. Brief glimpses of gender differences in voting had been apparent from time to time before 1980. For example, women were slightly more likely than men to vote for Dwight Eisenhower, the victorious Republican can- didate, in the 1952 and 1956 elections. However, these pre—1980 gender differences in voting were not persistent, nor were they accompanied by consistent gender differences in evaluations of presidential performance, party identification, or voting for offices other than president. A textbook on public opinion commonly used in political science courses, published just before the 1980 election, reflected the conventional thinking about gender differences at that time. This 324—page textbook devoted only one—half of a page to women and gender, concluding, "Differences in the political attitudes of men and women are so slight that they deserve only brief mention. . . .1n political attitudes and voting, people are seldom dif- ferent because of their sex.”10 Voting Choices 125 Even though women had achieved a substantial degree of indepen— deuce from men and their attitudes about themselves were changing throughout the 1970s, it was not until 1980 that a political candidate came along Who could crystallize political differences between women and men into a gender gap. Governor Ronald Reagan, the Republican who was elected president in 1980 and reelected in 1984, proved to be the catalyst for the gender gap. In contrast to the 1976 presidential campaign, where mOSt positions taken by the Republican and Democratic candidates were not starkly different, the 1980 presidential campaign presented vot~ erg with clear alternatives. Reagan offered policy proposals that contrasted sharply With the policies of then—incumbent President Jimmy Carter. Reagan promised to cut back on the size of the federal government, greatly reduce government spending, increase the strength of the U.S. military, and get tough with the Soviet Union. When offered such clear- cut alternatives, the differences in preferences between women and men became apparent. Although Reagan defeated Carter in 1980 and was elected president, he received notably less support from women than from men. Exit polls, conducted by the major television networks as voters left the polls on Election Day, showed that women were between six and nine percent— age points less likely than men to vote for Reagan. For example, an exit poll conducted jointly by CBS and the New York Times showed that only 46 percent of women, compared to 54 percent of men, voted for Reagan, resulting in a gender gap of eight percentage points. Clearly, women were less attracted to the candidacy and policies of Reagan than men were. (Alternatively, looking at the gender gap from the flip side, the polls showed that the policies and candidacy of Reagan resonated more with men than with women.) . Many commentators in the early 19805 thought that this gender gap in presidential voting might be short lived and disappear in subsequent presidential elections, much like earlier glimpses of gender differences (e.g., those in the presidential elections of the 19505), but this time the gender gap was here to stay. As Table 4.1 shows, in every presidential election since 1980, differences have been apparent in the proportions of women and men who voted for the winning candidate, ranging from a low of four percentage points in 1992 to a high of eleven percentage points in 1996. In each of these elections, women have been more likely than men to support the Democratic candidate for president. If the suffragists who had worked so hard to achieve voting rights for women were able to return today to see the results of their efforts, 126 4:1; :A‘gender gap’in voting liasvbeen evident’in eve ' res‘d ’ ‘ election since19’8'0”, i i- ‘9 ' ~, " 'I " ‘ i 1 i 1 WP ‘lrenhai Women Men Election Winning presidential voting for voting for year candidate winner (%) winner (%) points) 2008 Barack Obama (D) 56 49 7 2004 GeOrge W. Bush (R) 48 55 7 2000 George W. Bush (R) 43 53 10 1996 Bill Clinton (D) 54 43 11 1992 Bill Clinton (D) 45 41 4 1988 George H. W. Bush (R) 50 57 7 1984 Ronald Reagan (R) 56 62 6 1980 Ronald Reagan (R) 46 54 8 Source: Data are from exit polls concluded by CBS/New York Times, 1980, 1984, 1988- Voter News Service, 1992, 1996, 2000; Edison Media Research and Mitof I ‘ 2004, 2008. Sky nternatxonal, they would surely say, "I told you so.” It may have taken sixty years to arrive, but the women’s vote that the suffragists anticipated is now Clearly evident and has been influencing the dynamics of presidential elections for almost three decades. THE BREADTH AND PERSISTENCE OF THE GENDER GAP The gender gap has become an enduring feature of American politics that is evident across a wide variety of political attitudes, preferences, and behaviors. Since 1980, the gender gap has been apparent not only in vot- ing in presidential elections but also in voting at other levels of office, in party identification, and in the performance ratings of various presidents. The exit polls conducted on each Election Day have asked voters not only about their voting in the presidential contest but also about their voting choices in US. House, US. Senate, and gubernatorial elections. In every election since 1982, women have been more likely than men to vote for Democrats in races for the US. House of Representatives. For example, according to exit polls conducted by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International, a majority, 56 percent, of women, compared with a smaller majority, 52 percent, of men voted for the Democratic candidate for Congress in their district in 2008, resulting in a gender gap of four percentage points.11 ‘ Susan J. Carroll g, i l 1 l i, l .W,, Voting Choices 127 Gender gaps also have been evident in a majority of races for US. Senate and gubernatorial seats in recent elections. Thirty—five of the one hundred seats in the US. Senate were up for election in 2008, and eleven of the fifty states elected governors. Women and men did not vote differ— enfly in all of these contests, but they did have significantly different pref— erences in ab0ut three—fourths of them. In twenty-eight, or 82.4 percent, of the thirty-four races for US. Senate seats for which exit polls were Conducted, gender gaps ranging from four to nineteen percentage points were evident, according to exit polls conducted by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International. In seven of the eleven gubernatorial races, or 63.7 percent, there were gender gaps of four to eleven percentage points. In each of the US. Senate and gubernatorial elections in which a notable gender gap was present, women were more likely than men to vote for the Democratic candidate.12 Not only are women more likely than men to vote for Democratic cane didates but also they are more likely than men to identify with the Demo- cratic Party. When asked whether they think of themselves as Democrats, Republicans, or independents, more women than men call themselves Democrats. For example, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reported in April 2008 that 56 percent of women among registered voters, compared with 46 percent of men, identified or leaned toward the Democratic Party (a gender gap of ten percentage points). More- over, men did not have a strong preference for one party over the other. They divided themselves about evenly between the two parties, with 46 percent of men identifying as Democrats and 43 percent as Repub- licans. However, women showed a clear preference for the Democratic Party over the Republican Party, with 56 percent of women identifying as Democrats and only 33 percent as Republicans.13 Some observers have argued that the gender gap is the result of changes in men’s, not women’s, political behavior, and the data on party identification offer the strongest evidence in support of this point of View. In the 1970s, both women and men were more likely to identify as Democrats than Republicans, and no significant gender gap in party iden— tification was apparent. However, that pattern changed beginning in the early 1980s, following the election of Ronald Reagan. Men shifted in the direction of the Republican Party, becoming more likely to identify as Republicans and less likely to identify as Democrats than they had been in the 1970s. In contrast, women’s party identification remained more sta— ble, showing less dramatic changes since the l970s. Women were more 128 Susan 1, Cam)"; likely to identify as Democrats than as Republicans in the 1970s and th remained more likely to be Democrats in 2008. I ey Although the gender gap in party identification apparent toda ' largely the result of changes among men, this does not mean thatiihl‘S . gender gap in party identification is the result of men’s behavior alone. I the behavior of women has also been critical. Prior to 1980, whet, shifts occurred in the political environment, women and men generaun responded similarly. But with the increasing independence of wome: from men, the politics of the 1980s produced a different result. When men chose to shift their party identification, women chose not to follow them. Just as a gender gap has been evident in party identification, a gendeI gap also has been apparent in evaluations of the performance of pres- idents who have served since 1980. On surveys condUCted throughout the year, the Gallup Poll asks whether people approve or disapprove of the way the incumbent is handling his job as president. Some pres— idents have had higher approval ratings than others, and the ratings for each president have varied across his tenure in office. For example, although George W. Bush ended his tenure in office as one of the most unpopular presidents in recent history, his approval ratings soared in the months following September 11, 2001, when the World Trade Center was attacked and the American people rallied behind their leader. Even though Bush’s approval ratings varied greatly during his eight years in office, women and men differed in their evaluations of his perfor- mance across most of his tenure. For example, a Gallup Poll conducted November 11—14, 2007, when Bush’s popularity was low, found that 29 percent of women, compared with 35 percent of men, approved of the way Bush was handling his job as president (a six—percentage-point 5 gender gap).14 A similar gender gap is apparent in Barack Obama’s approval ratings. Shortly after his inauguration in January 2008, when support for Obama was very high, Gallup found that 71 percent of women, compared with 64 percent of men, approved of Obama’s performance as president (a seven-percentage-point gender gap).15 Gender gaps have been apparent in the performance ratings of all [ other recent presidents as well. Women have been more critical than 5 men of Republican presidents and more approving than men of the f lone Democrat other than Obama who has served as president since i 1980. Thus, women were less likely than men to approve of the way 1 Republicans Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush handled their jobs ’ voting Choices 129 as president but more likely than men to evaluate favorably Democrat Bin Clinton’s performance. THE GENDER GAP AND WOMEN CANDIDATES As other chapters in this volume document, the number of women run— ning for public office has increased over the past several decades. Every election year. women are among the candidates who run for the U.S. House, U.S. Senate, and governor. What happens to the gender gap in the general election when one (or both) of the candidates for one of these offices is a woman? Unfortunately, there is no straightforward, easy answer to this ques- tion. It depends on whether the woman candidate is a Democrat or a Republican, and if she is a Republican, how moderate or conservative she 15. The answer may also depend on the state or district in which she runs and the larger context of the election. Years ago, v0ter prejudice may have been a major problem for the few women who were brave enough to seek public office. However, bias against women candidates has declined significantly. Since 1937, poll- sters have asked voters whether they would be willing to vote for a “qualified” woman for president. In 1937, only about one-third of vot— ers said that they would vote for a woman. In contrast, by the begin- ning of the twenty—first century, about nine of every ten Americans reported that they would VOte for a woman for the nation’s highest office (although there is some evidence that this high level of support dipped for a while in the aftermath of the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001).16 Thus, voter prejudice against women candidates, even for the most powerful office in the United States, has declined considerably, although it has not completely disappeared. But if there still are voters who are predisposed to vote against women, there also are voters who are predisposed to cast affirmative votes for women candidates. Moreover, research has shown that women are more likely than men to be predisposed to support women candidates.17 This predisposition on the part of some voters to vote for or against a woman candidate, all other things being equal, becomes an additional factor that can increase or decrease the size of the gender gap when women run for office. In general, women candidates who are Democrats tend to have gen— der gaps (with women voters more likely than men to vote for them) that are similar in size to or sometimes larger than those for male Democratic 130 Susan J, Cam," . TABLE 42: ‘ Awge‘nderggap in Voting was evident 'in‘the racesof all women Who'won election‘to the U-S. Senate in 2008 'L ' ' ‘ '4 Gender gap Women voting Men voting (in percentage for winner (%) for winner (%) pointS) U.S. Senate Winners Kay Hagen (D—NC) 55 47 8 Mary Landrieu (D—LA) 57 47 10 Jeanne Shaheen (D—NH) 6O 45 15 Susan Collins (R—ME) 59 63 4 Source: Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International Exit Polls, 2008. candidates. In contrast, women candidates who are Republicans tend to have gender gaps (with women voters more likely than men to vote against them) that are similar in size to or sometimes smaller than those for male Republican candidates. An analysis of U.S. House races in three elections in the early 1990s found that the gender gap was, on average, greater in races where the Democratic candidate was a woman candidate than in races where a Democratic man ran against a Republican man. Similarly, on average, the gender gap was smaller in races where the Republican candidate was a woman than in races where a Republican man ran against a Democratic man.18 Table 4.2 shows the gender gap in races won by the four women elected to the U.S. Senate in the 2008 elections, and the generalizations presented previously hold up well for these victorious candidates. The average gender gap for the twenty-eight U.S. Senate races in 2008 in which both candidates were men was 6.4 percentage points, with female voters more likely than male voters to vote for the Democratic candidate. As Table 4.2 shows, all three of the Democratic women senators exceeded this norm and had gender gaps greater than the average for races involv- ing two male candidates. Mary Landrieu, an incumbent from Louisiana, and Jeanne Shaheen, who won an Open seat in New Hampshire, both had male opponents, and the gender gaps in their races were notably greater than the average for races involving two men. Kay Hagen, a challenger from North Carolina, actually defeated another woman, incumbent Elizabeth Dole, which may help to explain why the gender gap in her race, while still larger than average, was not as large as the gender gaps in Landrieu’s and Shaheen’s races. Regardless, in 2008, as in previous Voting Choices 131 elections, most female Democratic candidates fared as well as or bet- ter than male Democratic candidates in winning support from women Voters. The lone Republican woman elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008, Susan Collins, an incumbent from Maine, had a four—percentage-point gender gap in her race, with women less likely than men to have cast their votes for her (see Table 4.2). The gender gap for Collins was smaller than the 6,4—percentage—point average for U.S. Senate races in which the Republi- can and Democratic candidates were both men. Collins, who voted with the Christian Coalition only 30 percent of the time in 2007—8 and with the American Conservative Union only 36 percent of the time in 2007,19 is an example of a moderate Republican woman who was able to appeal to a sufficient number of women voters to reduce the size ofuthe gender gap in her race to smaller than average even though, as a Republican, she attracted fewer votes from women than from men. Maine is one of three states represented by two women senators, and Maine’s other senator, Olympia Snowe, has been one of the rare Repub- lican women who has succeeded in attracting enough votes from women not only to reduce the size of the gender gap as Collins did but also to completely eliminate it. Although Olympia Snowe’s seat was not up for reelection in 2008, she was reelected to the U.S. Senate in both 2000 and 2006. In 2000, no gender gap was apparent in Snowe’s race; she was reelected with 69 percent of the votes of women and 69 percent of the votes of men in her state. In 2006, Maine’s senior Republican sen— ator actually attracted slightly more votes from women than from men; 75 percent of women and 73 percent of men cast their ballots for her.20 Snowe has a moderate, pro-choice voting record in the U.S. Senate and has been a champion for women during the years she served in both the Senate and the U.S. House. She voted with the Christian Coalition only 20 percent of the time in 2007—8 and with the American Conser- vative Union only 28 percent of the time in 2007; no other Republi« can in the U.S. Senate more often voted in opposition to the positions favored by these conservative groups. Moreover, Snowe (like her fellow senator Collins) voted for the positions advocated by NARAL Pro-Choice America 100 percent of the time in 2007.21 Largely because of her mod- erate, pro-choice voting record and her advocacy on behalf of women, Snowe has been able to effectively neutralize the gender gap, eliminating the deficit that Republican candidates usually experience with women voters. 132 Susan J. Carroll TABLE 4.3: A gender gap Vin‘yoting evident across ‘a Wideiran'geof demographic,grou‘psfin‘the 2008, presidential election 3 ' ' ' Women Men voting for voting for Gender gap (in Demographic group Obama (%) Obama (%) percentage pointS) Race or ethnicity White 46 41 5 African American 96 95 i Latino 68 64 4 Age 1 8—29 69 62 7 30—44 55 49 6 45—64 53 46 7 65 and older 46 45 1 Marital status Married 47 46 i Unmarried 7O 58 12 Parental status Children under 18 57 48 9 No children under 18 56 51 5 Employment status Employed 6O 50 10 Not employed 52 47 5 Source: Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International Exit Polls, 2008. EXPLANATIONS FOR THE GENDER GAP One observation about the gender gap can be made with a high degree of certainty: the gender gap is not limited to one or even a few demographic subgroups. In an attempt to undermine women’s voting power, polit— ical commentators have sometimes claimed that the gender gap is not a broad-based phenomenon but rather one that can be fully explained by the voting behavior of some particular subgroup of women in the electorate — for example, women of color or unmarried voters. Table 4.3 reveals the obvious problem with such claims. When compared with men who shared their demographic characteristics, women of different races and ethnicities, ages, parental statuses, and employment statuses voted for Barack Obama more often than men did (and less often voted for John McCain). In fact, voting differences between women and men are found in most subgroups of the electorate. Consequently, no single demo- graphic category of voters is responsible for the gender gap. Rather, the Voting Choices 133 gender gap is clearly a phenomenon that is evident across many of the various subgroups that comprise the American electorate. Of course, to say that the gender gap is apparent across many different subgroups does not mean that gender differences are of equal magnitude across all demographic categories. As Table 4.3 also shows, the gender gap is smaller or larger for some demographic groups than for others. The gender gap virtually disappeared in 2008 among African Americans, who Voted overwhelmingly for Obama regardless of gender, and among two other groups — senior citizens (voters age sixty—five and older) and mar- ried people — who were less supportive of Obama than most other voters. In contrast, gender differences were particularly great among unmarried voters, the employed, and voters with children under the age of eigh- teen. While voters age eighteen to twenty—nine were more pro‘Obama than other age groups, the gender gap among young voters was neither greater nor smaller than the gender gap for those age thirty to forty-four or age forty—five to sixty—four. In contrast to the similarity in the size of the gender gap across all but the oldest age group, the gender gap was greater among parents and the employed than it was among nonparents and the unemployed. Beyond the fact that the gender gap is not limited to one particu— lar subgroup but rather widespread across the electorate, definitive state- ments about the gender gap are difficult to make. Indeed, the gender gap appears to be a rather complex phenomenon. Nevertheless, a number of different explanations have been put forward to account for the gender gap in voting. None of these explanations seems sufficient by itself. More- over, the explanations are not mutually exclusive; in fact, they are some- what overlapping. However, several of the explanations offered by aca- demic and political analysts do seem to have some validity and are useful in helping to account for the fact that women and men make somewhat different voting choices. Four of the most common explanations — com- passion, feminism, economics, and the role of government — are reviewed briefly here. The compassion explanation focuses on women’s roles as mothers and caregivers. Despite recent changes in gender roles, women still bear dis- proportionate responsibility for the care of children and the elderly in their families and in the greater society. Mothers are still called more often than fathers when children become ill at school, and women are still a large majority of health—care workers, teachers, child-care providers, and social workers. Women’s roles as caregivers may lead them to be more sympathetic toward those in need and more concerned with the safety and security of others. Women’s caregiving responsibilities may also lead I34 them to put greater emphasis than men on issues such as educati - health care. on: Consistent with this compassion explanation, education and héal care were two of the top issues in the 2000 presidential election Wm” focused largely on domestic politics rather than foreign affairs P‘ V showed that these issues were of greater concern to Women VOtersi‘mEB election than they were to men, and both presidential candidates 5 a great deal of time talking about these issues. In an obVious attem; t appeal to women voters, the Bush campaign suggested that George Bush was not an old—style conservative but rather a “compaSSionate con servative” who genuinely cared about the well-being of Americans. ' While concerns over the economy trumped all other issue concerns for both women and men in 2008, women voters in 2008, as in 2000, con- tinued to express more concern over health care and education than men. In September 2008, Quinnipiac University Polling Institute asked voters to choose the single most important issue that would influence their vote for president. Health care was the third most frequently men- -/ tioned issue among women (after the economy and the war in Iraq), but it ranked fifth for men (behind the economy, the war in Iraq, energy pol. icy, and terrorism). The poll did not list education as a possible response.22 J However, a poll conducted in August 2008 by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press found that women were ten percentage points more likely than men to say that the issue of education would be impor- tant to their vote; women were also eleven percentage points more likely to say that the health—care issue would be very important in determining their choice of presidential candidate.23 Also consistent with the compassion explanation is the greater reluc- tance of women than men to use military force to resolve foreign con- flicts. In 1980, when the gender gap first became apparent, Americans were being held hostage in Iran, tensions were running high with the Soviet Union, and foreign policy had become a central issue in the pres- idential campaign. Women reacted more negatively than men to Ronald Reagan’s tough posture in dealing with other nations, and women feared more than men that Ronald Reagan might get the country involved in a war. These gender differences were important in explaining why Reagan received stronger support from men than from women.24 Similarly, in both 2008 and 2004, which was the first presidential election since 1980 where foreign policy was central, a gender difference was evi- dent in women’s and men’s attitudes toward the war in Iraq. For exam- ple, a Rasmussen Reports survey released in June 2008 found that just 26136rCeIl fioOPS ,ceIIt . . Come home within a year.25 Polls have cons1stently shown gender gaps ‘On question men about In fact, one 0 between Women and men is in their attitudes toward the use of mili- _ tar}, force. For as far back as we have public-opinion polling data, women h 135 t of women, compared with 45 percent of men, believed that should stay in Iraq until the mission is finished. Similarly, 67 per- Of Women, but only 50 percent of men, wanted to see the troops s such as these, with women having more reservations than US. involvement in Iraq and other international conflicts. f the most persistent and long-standing political differences ave been significantly more likely than men to oppose the use of force to resolve international conflicts. As a second explanation for the gender gap, some observers have sug— gested the influence of the feminist movement. The discovery‘of the con- temporary gender gap in voting in the aftermath of the I980 presidential election coincided with intensive efforts by women’s organizations, espe- cially NOW, to have the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) ratified in the necessary thirty-eight states before the June 30, 1982, deadline. In addi— tion, NOW undertook an intensive effort to publicize the gender gap and Women’s lesser support, relative to men’s, for Ronald Reagan. As a result, [he ERA and the gender gap became associated in many people’s minds, and there was speculation that women were less supportive than men of Ronald Reagan because he opposed the ERA. However, scholarly analyses of voting and public opinion data have consistently shown that so-.called women’s issues — those issues most closely associated with the organized women's movement, such as the ERA and abortion — do not appear to be central to the gender gap. In part, this may be because women and men in the general electorate have very similar attitudes on these issues, and in part, this may be because candidates for president and other offices seldom choose to campaign on these issues. However, the fact that women’s issues such as the ERA or abortion are not central to the gender gap does not mean that feminism plays no role. As explained earlier in this chapter, the contemporary women’s move- ment has altered the way most women in the United States see them- selves and their life options. The movement has provided women with more awareness about their political interests and greater self-confidence about expressing their differences from men. Compelling empirical eVi~ deuce suggests that women who identify with feminism are more dis- tinctive from men in their political values than are other women, and that for women, a feminist identity may, in fact, foster the expression of the compassion differences described previously. Women influenced by feminism appear more likely than either men or other women to express 136 susan l- Carro attitudes sympathetic to those who are disadvantaged and in need consequently more predisposed to support the Democratic Party 26 Other explanations for the gender gap have focused on economin 7 ac: tors. More women than men live below the poverty line and wom . ’ e earn only seventy-eight cents for every dollar men earn. Because wom n “ 61'} on average are poorer than men, they are more dependent on govern ment soc1al serv1ces and more vulnerable to cuts in theSe services 31m ilarly, women are disproportionately employed in jobs that involve the delivery of human services (health, education, and Welfare). Although most women in human services jobs are not directly employed by the; , government, their employers often receive substantial government fund mg, and thus their jobs are, to varying degrees, dependent on the Contin ‘ ation of government subsidies. As the principal providers of social welfa: services, women are more likely than men to suffer loss of employment when these programs are cut. Beginning with Ronald Reagan and continuing through the 19905 with the Republican Congress’s Contract with America, Republicans at the national level argued that government (with the exception of defense) had grown too large and that cutbacks in domestic spending were necessary. When candidates and politicians propose to cut back on big government or the welfare state, the cuts they propose fall heavily on women who are disproportionately both the providers and the recipi- ents of government-funded services. Consequently, economic self- interest could lead women to favor the Democrats more than the Repub- licans. However, women’s economic concerns do not appear to be merely self—interested. Evidence shows that women are less likely than men to vote on the basis of economic considerations, but when they do, they are less likely than men to vote on the basis of their own self-interest and more likely to vote on the basis of how well off they perceive the country to be financially.27 Thus, women are more likely than men to think not just of their own financial situation but also of the economic situation that others are facing. In an election like that of 2008, where polls show that women were very worried about the state of the nation’s economy, economic considerations usually work to the disadvantage of the party in power. With a Republican incumbent in the White House, Republican John McCain’s chances With women were hurt and Democrat Barack Obama’s helped by the dismal state of the economy in the weeks leadino up to Election Day. a The final explanation for the gender gap, focusing on the role of government, is clearly related to the economic explanation but extends arid beyond econ ; fives. however, _, women to see gove dfing Choices 137 omic considerations. In recent years, some of the most con— Sistent and important gender differences in public opinion have shown up on queStions about the role that government should play in Americans’ Both women and men agree that government, especially the federal nt, does not work as effectively as they would like. Beyond that, their attitudes are quite different. Men are more likely than rnment as the problem rather than the solution, and they are considerably more likely than women to favor serious cutbacks govemmfi ’ in federal government programs and federal spending on non—defense» related projects. Men more than women prefer private—sector solutions to societal problems. In contrast, women are more likely to want to fix government rather than abandon it. Women are more worried than men that government cutbacks may go too far; they are more concerned than men about preserving the social safety net for the people who are most in need in the United States. The Republican Party, which receives greater Support from men, is commonly perceived as the party that wants to scale back the size of government, whereas the Democratic Party, which has more women among its supporters, is more commonly perceived as the party that defends government programs and works to preserve the social safety net. Irnportantly, gender differences in views about the role of government are not limited to economics. There is a moral dimension as well, which offers strong possibilities for Republicans to make inroads with women voters. Women not only are more likely than men to believe that gov— eminent should help those who are in economic need but also are more likely than men to believe that government should play a role in pro— moting traditional values. In the 1996 presidential election, when the incumbent Democratic candidate, Bill Clinton, won a convincing victory, his campaign spent considerable time talking about moral values, focusing on issues and proposals related to Violence in the media, personal respon- sibility, teen smoking, and drugs. In the 2004 campaign, there was little discussion by John Kerry and his campaign of proposals to promote moral Values, and most political observers agreed that the Republicans gave far more attention than did the Democrats to values in their cam— paign. This lack of attention to moral concerns, which the 1996 Clinton campaign showed need not be the province of Republican candidates only, may be one of many reasons why the Kerry campaign did not fare better with women voters in 2004. In fact, according to the exit polls Conducted by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International, almost one-quarter of women voters in 2004 said that the issue that mattered most in their choice for president was moral values, and of these women, I3 8 Susan J_ Carro') four out of five voted for George W. Bush. In 2008, moral concerns Seem to have played less of a role in the election, with the economic crisis and) the war in Iraq taking center stage. POLITICAL STRATEGIES FOR DEALING WITH THE GENDER GAP AND APPEALING TO WOMEN VOTERS Given the foregoing explanations for the gender gap, it would appear that the best way for candidates and parties to appeal to women voters is by talking very specifically, concretely, and frequently about issues, whether they be compassion issues (e.g., peace, health care, and education), eco- nomic concerns, or moral issues. However, presidential candidates and campaigns often use symbolic appeals in addition to, and sometimes in lieu of, issue-based appeals to Win support from women voters. One of the ways candidates and campaigns have attempted to appeal to women voters symbolically is by showcasing prominent women, as they did in 2008. As noted earlier in this chapter, both Obama and McCain attempted to appeal to women voters by showing that widely admired and accomplished women — for example, Oprah Winfrey, Caroline Kennedy, Carly Fiorina, and Hillary Clinton — supported them. As Barbara Burrell notes in Chapter 8 of this volume, both political parties also featured prominent women at their 2008 presidential nominating conventions. Beyond the use of well—known women, recent presidential campaigns have used symbolic strategies to appeal to women voters. The presiden- tial campaign of George W. Bush, in particular, was very clever in its use of symbolic appeals to woo women voters. In the 2004 campaign and especially the 2000 campaign, the Bush campaign employed a new term, describing their candidate as a compassionate conservative. Bush him— self suggested, ”I am a compassionate conservative, because I know my philosophy is full of hope for every American.”28 Although ambiguous as to what concrete policy proposals might flow from this philosophy, the use of the term compassionate conservative clearly invoked the image of a candidate who cared about people, and the term undoubtedly was coined, entirely or in part, as a strategy to appeal to women voters. However, the cleverest symbolic strategy of all may have been the name that the Bush campaign chose for its organized effort to win women vot— ers. At Bush campaign events across the country, signs appeared with the slogan "W Stands for Women,” a double entendre suggesting that Bush’s middle initial and his nickname, indicated his supportive posture toward women. ion the t - of men, 139 Another use of symbolic appeals in recent campaigns has focused argeting of specific groups of women (and occasionally groups such as NASCAR dads) to the exclusion of large numbers of women voters. Two examples are the targeting of so~called soc— Other 5 in the 1996 and, to a lesser extent, the 2000 elections, and CE: :10? security moms in the 2004 elections. Both soccer moms and SO-C ‘te moms Were social constructions — a combination of demographic secu:C‘E/eristics, assigned a catchy name by political consultants, with no :Eection to any existing self—identified group or organizational base. when consultants and the media first started referring to soccer moms in 1996, women did not identify themselves as such, but the term has subsequently entered into popular usage and some women now refer to themselves this way. Similarly, women did not self-identify as secu- rity moms before the term was introduced in the context of the 2004 elections. Although the definition of a soccer mom varied somewhat, she was generally considered a white, married woman with children (presum— ably of soccer—playing age), living in the suburbs. She also. was often described in media coverage as stressed out and dIiVing a minivan. The soccer mom was considered important politically because she was Viewed as a swing voter —- a voter whose demographics had traditionally led her to vote Republican but who could be persuaded to vote Democratic. One of the most important characteristics of the soccer mom was that she was not primarily concerned about her own self-interest but about her family and, most important, her children. As Kellyanne Fitzpatrick, a Repubh— can pollster, noted, "If you are a soccer mom, the world according to you is seen through the needs of your children.”29 The security mom, who became a focus of attention during the last several weeks of the 2004 presidential campaign, shared many of the demographic characteristics of the soccer mom. Like the soccer mom, she was considered white and married, with young children. Also hke the soccer mom, the security mom did not put her own needs first but rather those of her family and children. She was repeatedly described as preoccupied with keeping her family safe from terrorism. The Repubh- can presidential campaign, in particular, openly campaigned for the votes of these women in 2004. For example, on October 10, 2004, on CNN’s Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter, Liz, urged women to vote for the Republican ticket, explaining, "You know, I’m a security mom. I’ve got four little kids. And what I care about in this election cycle is electing a guy who is going to be a commander-in-chief, who will do whatever it takes to keep those kids safe.”30 140 The intensive campaign and media attention devoted to soccer in 1996 and 2000 and to security moms in 2004 deflected attentio from the concerns of many other subgroups of women, indud moms of women. As a result, Clinton was reelected in 1996 and Bush was twice elected to the presidency in 2000 and 2004 without campaigning ag sively on (or, in some cases, even seriously addressing) many of the issues of greatest importance to the majority of women in this country who are not white, middleeclass mothers of young children. CONCLUSION: WHY THE GENDER GAP MATTERS AND A LOOK TOWARD 2012 The gender gap has given women voters increased political influence in recent years. Candidates now must pay attention to women voters to win elections. As Susan A. MacManus observes in Chapter 3 of this volume, in recent elections, women have voted at slightly higher rates than men. Women also are a greater proportion of the population. These two facts combined mean that there have been many more female than male voters in recent elections. In the 2008 election, for example, about 9.7 million more women than men voted.31 The fact that there are so many more female v0ters than male voters adds power to the so—called women’s vote, and clearly the more women who turn out to vote, the more clout women are likely to have. Women voters received more attention in 2008 than in any previ- ous presidential election in large part because Hillary Clinton received disproportionate support from women voters throughout the Democratic primary season. Once she was out of the race, both Barack Obama and John McCain sought to win the votes of the millions of women who had supported Clinton in the Democratic primaries as well as the votes of moderate and independent women who had not yet decided between the two candidates. In the end, more women opted for Barack Obama and his message of change, and the gender gap in 2008, with women more likely than men to support the Democratic candidate, looked much like it had in the 2004 election. 11 away . . :ng fem], . mists, college-age women, older women, women on welfare wome" ' n of color, and professional women. Ironically, it even defleCted attention i away from the concerns of white, middle—class women themselves eXCcptfly in their role as moms. Both the campaigns and the media Were able to I appear to be responsive to the concerns of women voters by talking abouf j I soccer moms and security moms while actually ignoring the vast majonty , gender gap’ 5 , fial for wom Too many women s gres— ‘ 141 Despite the attention to women voters in 2008, the existence of the and the larger number of female than male voters, the pOten— en voters to influence politics has not yet been fully realized. till do not vote. In part this is because candidates dential elections have so frequently relied on symbolic, her than issne-based, appeals to women voters. In particular, in focus- ‘rat on specific groups of women such as soccer moms or security moms, II:isidential candidates have been able to win elections without always :ddressing in a serious and sustained way the issue-based concerns of greatest importance to the many women who do not fit the demographic Srofile of these moms. . . f — The more candidates downplay or ignore the issue concerns 0 var ious subgroups of women voters (e.g., college-age women, less affluent women, women of color), the more tempting it is for those women to remain uninvolved in politics and to stay away from the polls. However, this is a catch—22. The more uninvolved that certain subgroups of women are, the more likely it is that their interests will be overlooked in the polit- ical proceSS. In fact, women whose concerns are not bemg addressed by candidates need to become more involved in the future and insist that candidates respond to their concerns. Only then will the full potential power of the gender gap be realized. . . In the first few months following the 2008 elections, Sarah Palm emerged in polls as one of the leading candidates for the Republican pres- idential nomination in 2012. Obviously, much can change in the many months before the 2012 election. Sarah Palin may ultimately choose not to run for president in 2012, and other candidates will certainly enter the race for the Republican nomination. But if Palin runs, attention Will almost assuredly be paid to how women voters respond to her candidacy. On the Democratic side, Barack Obama will likely seek reelection. Will he be able to maintain the strong backing from women voters that he received in 2008? Will women continue to be more supportive of Obama than men are? Much can change before the next presidential election, but early signs suggest that women voters may play an important and idential contest. Meet you at the gender in recent presi interesting role in the next pres gap in 2012! NOTES 1 Center for American Women and Politics. 2009. The Gender Gap. <http:// www.cawp.rutgersedu/fastiacts Notes/documents/GGPresVote.pdf> March 1, 2009. 142 Susan J. Carroll f 2 Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. December 3, 2007. Demo‘ cratic Primary Preview: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina. <http;// people-press.org/reports/pdf/374.pdf> March 1, 2009. 3 CNNPolitics.com. Election Center 2008. Results: Hillary Clinton. <http1/lwww‘ ‘ cnn.com/ELEC'ITON/2008/primaries/results/candidates/#1746> March 1, 2009. 4 Shailagh Murray and Anne E. Kornblut. June 24, 2008. Clinton to Join Obama as He Courts Female Vote. Washington Post. 5 Jason Tuohey. July 9, 2008. Obama Targets Women Voters. Boston Globe. <http://www.boston.com/news/politicslpoliticalintelligence/Z008/07/0bama_ targets_w.html> March 1, 2009. 6 Liz Sidoti and Charles Babington. July 10, 2008. For Obama, McCain, Varied Paths on Women’s 1ssues. Boston Globe. <http://Wva.bOSt0n.C0rn/new5/ politics/2008/articles/2008/07/10lfor_obama_mccain_varied_paths_on_ womensissuesl> March 1, 2009. 7 Jon Cohen and Dan Balz. September 9, 2008. In Poll, McCain Closes the Gap with Obama. Washington Post. 8 See, for example, Frank Newport. Gallup. September 24, 2008. Did Palin Help McCain among White Women? <http://www.gallup.com/poll/110638/Did- Palin-Help-McCain—Among-White-Women.aspx> March 1, 2009. 9 This account applies largely to white women who constituted a large major- ity of women in the United States throughout these decades. The situa- tion for African American women and other women of color was somewhat different. African American women were less likely than white women to be economically dependent on men because they more often worked out- side the home (although usually in low-paying jobs). However, the politi- cal interests of African American women and men still were generally inter- twined because society offered limited options for African Americans of either gender. 10 Robert S. Erikson, Norman R. Luttbeg, and Kent L. Tedin. 1980. American Public Opinion: Its Origins, Content, and Impact, 2nd ed. New York: John Wiley 8 Sons, 186. 11 CNNPolitics.com. Election Center 2008. Exit Polls. <http://www.cnn.com/ ELECTION/Z008/results/polls/#USPOOp1> March 1, 2009. 12 Ibid. 3 Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. April 28, 2008. Gen Dems: The Party’s Advantage among Young Voters Widens. <http://pewresearch. org/pubs/813/gen-dems> February 28, 2009. 14 Gallup. November 20, 2007. Congress’ Approval Rating at 20%; Bush’s Approval at 32%. <http://www.gallup.com/poll/102829/Congress-Approval- Rating-ZO—Bushs—Approval—32.aspx#2> February 28, 2008. 15 Gallup. January 6, 2009. Obama’s Initial Approval Ratings in Histori- cal Context. <http://www.gallup.com/poll/113968/Obama—Initial-Approval- Ratings-Historical-Context.aspx> February 28, 2008. Voting Choices 143 15 Jennifer L. Lawless. 2004. Women, War, and Winning Elections: Gender Stereotyping in the Post—September 11th Era. Political Research Quarterly 53(3): 479—90. ‘ Kira Sanbonmatsu. 2002. Gender Stereotypes and Vote Choice. American Jour- nal of Political Science 46: 20—34. 15 Elizabeth Adell Cook. 1998. Voter Reaction to Women Candidates. In Women and Elective Ofiice: Past, Present, and Future, ed. Sue Thomas and Clyde Wilcox. New York: Oxford University Press, 56—72. 19 Project Vote Smart. 2009. <http://www.votesmart.org/officiaLfive_categories. php?dist=voting.category.php> March 1, 2009. 20 CNN.com. 2006. AmericaVotes2006 Exit Polls. <http://www.cnn.com/ ELECTION/Z006/pages/resultsIstates/ME/S/01/epolls.0.html> March 1, 2009. 21 PrOject Vote Smart. 2009. <http://www.votesmart.org/officialiivemategones .php?dist=voting_category.php> March 1, 2009. 22 Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. 2008. September 18, 2008 — Women, Blacks Give Obama 4-Pt. Lead over McCain, Quinnipiac University National P011 Finds; More Voters Say Dem Tax Plan Helps Middle Class, Poor. <http:// www.quinmpiac.edu/x1295.xml?Release1D=1215> March 1, 2009. 23 Pew Research Center for People and the Press. August 21, 2008. More Americans Question Religion’s Role in Politics. <http://peop1e-press.orgil report/?pageid=l364> March 1, 2009. 24 Kathleen A. Frankovic. 1982. Sex and Politics: New Alignments, Old Issues. PS 15(Summer): 439—48. 25 Rasmussen Reports. June 3, 2008. 59% of Adults Want Troops Home from Iraq within the Year. <http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/ politics/ current_events/ the .war_in_iraq/ S9 _of_adults_want_tro ops_home- from_iraq_within_the_year> March 1, 2009. 26 Pamela Johnston Conover. 1988. Feminists and the Gender Gap. Journal of Politics 50(November): 985—1010. 27 Susan J. Welch and John Hibbing. 1992. Financial Conditions, Gender, and Voting in American National Elections. Journal ofPolitics 54(February): 197— 213. ' 28 Joe Conason. September 15, 2003. Where’s the Compassion? The Nation. <http://www.thenation.com/doc/20030915/conason> July 26, 2009. 29 Neil MacFarquhar. October 20, 1996. Don’t Forget Soccer Dads; What’s a Soc— cer Mom Anyway? New York Times. 30 CNN. October 10, 2004. Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer. <http://cnnstudent- news.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0410/10/le.01.html> March 21, 2005. 31 Center for American Women and Politics. 2009. Gender Differences in Voter Turnout. <http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/fastjacts/voters/documents/ genderdiff.pdi> July 26, 2009. 17 ...
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