It’s baaack.

Yep, the gender gap, which disappeared during the 2010 midterm elections, is back with a vengeance. A news report notes:

President Barack Obama leads presumed Republican nominee Mitt Romney among voters nationwide with the help of an almost 2-1 advantage among single women, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.

The survey released today shows Obama with 46 percent support, Romney with 43 percent. Single women favor Obama over Romney, 60 percent to 31 percent.

The gender gap has been around since the 1980s, when it was noticed that women tended to vote overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates. Because the liberal media set the tone of the discussion, another gender gap, the tendency of male voters to support Republicans, got less attention.

Undoubtedly, some of the resurgence of the gender gap must stem from the phony “war on women” the Obama campaign outrageously alleges that Republicans are waging. Unable to point to a record of economic growth, the Obama campaign is framing this alleged war in terms of social issues, including the spurious and almost outlandish claim that Republicans would like to outlaw the use of contraceptives.

But some of the return of the gender gap is a return to same old same old: it is unmarried women, not married women, who tend to vote lopsidedly Democratic. Indeed, the story accompanying the Quinnipiac poll notes that there is also a “marriage gap” that goes along with the gender gap.

It attributes this to social issues, arguing that unmarried people are more likely to care about homosexual rights or abortion. But this fails to take into consideration another reason that unmarried women skew Democratic: they want the safety net that is supposedly provided by government programs.

What the IWF has stressed for years is that the safety net programs are neither particularly safe nor free. The costs of government programs are borne by taxpayers, including the single women. And any program offered by government can be changed overnight or, as is increasingly apparent, become insolvent. What the government giveth, it can also taketh away.

The appearance of having a government safety net is probably attractive when the economy is lousy. But it is a mirage, and women need to know that our best hope is not a paternalistic Uncle Sam but a thriving economy.