Could an unmarried woman sink Obama?

No, there is no sex scandal in the offing!

That is the headline on a Fox News story on a fascinating phenomenon: unmarried women, a dependably Democratic group of voters, may be turning against the president.

If so, this is truly historic.  It would be the first time unmarried women have not supported the Democratic nominee for president at least since 1980, when the so-called "gender gap" was noticed and named.

The impact of single female voters in the last presidential election was decisive. As the Fox story reports:  

The liberal research, polling and strategy firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (GQR) found after the 2008 election that, "If not for the overwhelming support of unmarried women, John McCain would have won the women's vote and with it, the White House." Unmarried women voted for Barack Obama over Sen. John McCain, 70 percent to 29 percent-and cast 23 percent of all votes in that election.

The gender gap was frustrating for women like the ones who post here on Inkwell. I wrote this about it around time last year:

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.

But a remarkable thing already was happening when I wrote that: the gender gap was vanishing. The 2010 midterms all but closed it. We at IWF took this as a sign that women were wising up, that they were realizing that, when Uncle Sam gives you something, it's because he has already taken it from you in the form of higher taxes.

So I should be happy at the Fox News report, no? Yes–and no. I worry that this trend away from President Obama may actually be a reflection to how deeply committed unmarried women are to government programs: 

Besides jobs and the economy, unmarried women are also concerned about how much health care coverage they'll receive-or lose-under ObamaCare and about changes made to programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

Another source of their anxiety is the future of Social Security, which more than 25 percent of unmarried women rely on as their only source of income.

These are legitimate concerns. But they also show that these women are still looking to government. I'd feel better if they were not only concerned about their own welfare but were clamoring for the reform of Social Security. As for Obamacare, I think they realize it is going to be a disaster. This bodes well for repeal and a more incremental approach to reforming our healthcare system. 

Another good sign: Greenberg polling shows that non-minority unmarried women regard "too much spending, taxes and deficits" as a key issue. When unmarried women start thinking this way, it is the beginning of the unraveling of the big government consensus. Put me in the "guardedly optimistic" column.