With the next presidential election just months away, it seems female voters have never been in the spotlight as they are now. Both of the main political parties and their primary candidates in this cycle have been appealing to women voters every chance they can get lately, and both seem determined to tell the public that the other party is bad for women in particular as evidenced by the recent “war on women” debate.
The Democrats claim that the Republican are waging a “war on women’’ and the Republicans push the other way saying that women are the primary victims of lost job opportunities since Obama became president in 2008. The arguments on both sides fail to recognize that real women voters are each unique individuals with a mind, and beliefs of their own. There is no “typical woman voter” in the United States today, and as a result, there is no single party, or single philosophy that binds all American women together and they certainly do not cast their votes as one single-minded block of constituents. The facts don’t get in the way of the political narrative and myths though, and taking a closer look at real women in the U.S. today shows that getting the female vote could be far more complex and challenging than first thought.
One of the most common misconceptions about female voters is that they all vote together, and that is simply untrue. Different women have different political alignments and the statistics have shown that white, married, rural and suburban women have been voting mostly as Republicans since back in 1964 when they voted that group favored the other side. On the other hand, those women who are currently single, highly educated and live in urban areas are mostly voting Democratic these days.
Another common error is thinking that women voters favor women candidates, as once they enter the voting booth, they don’t automatically favor female candidates. As a result, you will not hear female candidates from either party making that pitch, as when Hillary Clinton ran against Obama, it showed that the women’s vote was split with Obama winning the younger women’s votes, while Hillary took the women voters over age 65, but barely won a majority of the women’s votes in the process.
Many people also believe that women vote mainly based on women’s issues like abortion rights and contraception. Instead, surveys have shown that women’s top priorities today are health care, gas prices, unemployment and the deficit with the topic of contraception falling somewhere in far behind. The women’s vote is nearly divided on issues like abortion rights too, with 50 percent of women identifying as pro-choice and 44 percent as pro-life in a poll conducted just last year.
Finally, there is the belief among some that it is the men in the country who actually decide the election results. This is contradicted by the fact that women have turned out to vote in greater numbers than men since 1980, and in 2008, 65.7 percent of the eligible women turned up to vote compared with just 61.5 percent of the men who did the same. The truth about women voters is that they are not a single-minded entity that any one candidate or political party can count on for votes, and the process of gaining their votes is much more complicated than it might seem at first.