Friday, December 02, 2016

Gender And the 2016 Elections. Part I: How Did Women And Men Say They Voted?

This is the first of three posts, a mini-series on sex differences in voting behavior, on the possible impact of sexism or misogyny as one of the motivating forces for some/many voters and, finally, my own views on how Hillary Clinton's run was framed in much of the media.

I'm beginning with the CNN exit poll data.*

Here is the table which shows how men and women in various ethnic and racial groups said they voted in the 2016 presidential elections:

And here is the corresponding exit polls table from the 2012 elections:

What would first strike you about those two tables?  Do you notice how similar the two sets of exit poll results are?  How it is the whites who constitute the vast majority of the Republican Party?  How it is the blacks who overwhelmingly vote for the Democratic Party?

How in every racial and ethnic category men are more likely to vote for the Republican candidate than women?**

And, of course, how close the various numbers are to each other.

There are differences, too.  Hillary Clinton got a lower percentage of votes than Barack Obama in every single sex-race-ethnicity category except that for white women, and third party candidates got more votes in 2016 than in 2012.

All that is a useful reminder, something to keep in mind while the media chews and chews and will not swallow the topic of angry white working class people in the swing states***:  The overall picture suggests that Americans voted fairly closely the same way in 2016 and in 2012, though Barack Obama was better liked than Hillary Clinton.

And that is the shock, of course, because whatever nasty things one might say about Mitt Romney, he is not a carnival barker like Donald J. Trump, who has already broken many of his campaign promises.  Neither was Mitt Romney famous for pussy-grabbing or for calling Mexicans rapists or for wanting to erect a wall against the Mexican border. ****

For what it is worth, here is the table on how much grabbing women by their pussies bothered voters in 2016:

I don't want to exaggerate the similarity of the 2012 and 2016 exit poll results.  As I already noted, Clinton was less popular than Obama, and third party candidates played a larger role in 2016.  The tables on voting by gender and marital status also show differences.

Here's the 2016 table:

And here's the 2012 table:

Note the very large drop among unmarried men from the Democratic column and also the fairly large increase in the number of married women in that same column.  The overall effect in 2016 exit polls is to leave the married men as the only group which shows a strong preference for Trump.

What caused these changes, assuming that the exit poll figures are a good measure of actual votes?

Your guesses are as good as mine, though it's interesting that the unmarried men's loss in the Democratic column didn't benefit only Trump but also third-party candidates.


*  All the 2016 tables in this post are from this source, all the 2012 tables from this source.

Exit poll data should be treated with some caution, because it might not create a representative sample of all votes cast, for various reasons.  Note, also, that these polls are for the whole country, not just for the swing states.

** The same pattern can be found in this table which looks at party-membership and gender in voting (2016):

*** I get the focus on the swing states, but they are the swing states because of the overall patterns of voting in the country, so those overall patterns matter, too.

****  My impression is that those Trump utterances didn't matter very much, but I may be mistaken.  For example, that Latinos and Latinas in the two sets of exit polls stated that they voted for Trump roughly at the same percentages as they voted for Romney might not mean that they weren't bothered by Trump's nasty comments about Mexicans.  The alternative explanation is that they were troubled by that hostility, but that their demographic groups are becoming more conservative over time and thus more likely to vote for the Republican candidate.  From that angle Trump may have lost some of their votes.