You’ve got to indulge me just a bit with a jaunty walk down the gender gap memory lane. I promise we’ll get to the surprising present in no time at all.
In 2000, IWF devoted an entire issue of the old Women’s Quarterly, of blessed memory, to the gender gap. Columnist Mona Charen did an excellent job of summing up the issue:
First, does [the gender gap] exist? As editor Charlotte Hays explains, the gender gap does exist. But everything about it — including its name — is a case of successful spin by liberals and feminists.
Studying voting patterns after the 1980 election, Eleanor Smeal, then president of the National Organization for Women, saw an opportunity. While most analysts noted that women divided their votes almost evenly for Carter (45 percent) and Reagan (46 percent), Smeal highlighted the difference between men and women. Fifty-four percent of men voted for Reagan, while only 46 of women did. Voila, an eight point gap and a potential women’s voting bloc. By the following year, NOW was trumpeting “Reagan’s Female Problem” and soon adopted the term “gender gap,” which the liberal media then solemnized….
OK, but why have more women than men voted for every Democratic presidential candidate since 1980? The gender gap, Hays and others argue, is actually a measure of dependence on government. In 1996, Clinton beat Dole 54 to 38 among women in general, but only 48 to 43 percent among married women. Sixty-two percent of unmarried women voted for Clinton.
We have long argued at the IWF that dependence on government is bad for everybody. But it has been very frustrating that the gender gap has chugged right along, women wanting Uncle Sam to be not just avuncular but paternalistic-until today.
Here is a tidbit from a recent Pew poll (scroll to page 8):
The current survey shows no gender gap among white likely voters – white men favor the Republican congressional candidate by 23 points and white women by 20 points. In November
2006, white men backed the Republican by 11 points while white women were divided.
Minority women who tend to look for bigger government may still prefer the Democratic candidate, but this result gives me hope that the day is dawning when all women will see that a vibrant economy is better for us than increased dependence on government.
I find it both interesting and heartening that a crop of talented, right-of-center female candidates have emerged this year. The times they are…well, you know.