Sunday, November 14, 2004

The Gender Gap in Politics Revisited

I stole this topic from Christine at ms. musings. She talks about a new survey (a pdf file here) which was done to establish how women and men voted this year. The survey is not based on the exit polls but on telephone questions around the time of the elections. (Check out Christine's analyses; they are much better than mine.)

The results indicate that women are still more likely to vote Democrat and men to vote Republican, but the difference is smaller than it has been in the past, because more men are voting Democrat and more women Republican.

White women, working women, married women and older women are the groups which show reduced support for the Democratic candidate. Not coincidentally, if you replace "women" by "men" in this list you get the men who are also less likely to support a Democratic choice. The gap is narrower, but it has not disappeared; for example, among older voters women were more likely to support Kerry than men.

The survey also asked whether the respondents thought that the presidential campaings had paid enough attention to the so-called women's issues, such as prevention of violence against women, women's equality under law and equal pay for women. The answers to these questions showed a very large gender gap: women were much more likely than men to say that the attention had been insufficient. A similar gender gap (which the report calls dramatic) exists where the survey asks questions about the importance of women's equality.

It's interesting to think of reasons for the different perceptions by gender here. One reason could be that there are more sexists among the men, but a more likely one is that these issues are not something many men think about a lot, given that they are not directly faced with the problems that women face. It's like the old parable about the supermarket door which is automatic whenever you go through it but which has to be manually pushed open when I go through it. The problem of fixing the door would take very different priorities for the two of us.