Single women’s votes are up for grabs, or so I hear. Today the New York Times joins the chorus, writing, “In Weak Economy, an Opening to Court Votes of Single Women.”
First, I find the underlying assumptions behind this narrative slightly offensive. Apparently, single women are brainless and owned by the Democratic Party unless the economy is tanking and a Democratic President is failing to deliver. Then we might look up from our uteruses and think about opening our minds to other policy issues. Are you kidding me?
The Times writer asserts that, “In an election focused on the economy, single women present a complicated case.” I’d disagree. Speaking as a single woman, we are not that complicated. We want basically the same things that everyone else wants: available jobs, good wages, affordable living standards, justice, security, and stability.
We want to take advantage of today’s ultra-low mortgage rates. We – many of us – want to find good husbands. We want to contribute to society through meaningful work. We want to one day have families (or, if we already have children, we want to see them prosper). It’s not a huge mystery what single women want!
Of course we (the majority of us) want access to affordable birth control. But I don’t see that as a big issue in this campaign cycle because neither candidate would limit access to birth control. Obama wants birth control to be included in everyone’s health insurance and available at the pharmacy at “no-cost.” That's in his HHS mandate. Romney doesn’t support this kind of mandate, but has never indicated that he would change anything about the other laws that regulate birth control.
Single women are typically more liberal on social issues, but that’s not a driving force in this election for any demographic group – only niche voters, and they fall on both sides of the debates about abortion and same-sex marriage. For most voters, Gallup and Pew confirm that social issues fall far below the economy, jobs, and health care in importance.
The NYT article also says, “[Single women] already earn less than married people and single men, and they have not fared well during the Obama administration.” Let’s break that down.
I’m not convinced that single women earn less than married people and single men. I’d be curious to see a citation for this.
Just like other large demographic groups, there’s a great deal of variety in the lifestyles and choices made by single women. We know that in many urban centers, for example, young, single, childless women out-earn their male counterparts, creating a reverse wage gap. And I’d speculate that single, childless, older women fare better than their married cohorts as well – especially those with children who’ve chosen to stay at home.
But it is true that – like everyone else – single women have not fared well during the Obama Administration. The New York Times continues, “They have had a harder time than married women paying rent, getting medical care and finding jobs. While the jobless rate for married women has stayed relatively low, at 5.6 percent compared with 2.6 percent before the recession, the rate for unmarried women has risen to 11 percent, from a prerecession level of 6 percent.”
We can do better, single ladies.
My hope is that single women would not be a voting bloc to be “courted,” but that as thinking individuals we’d weigh the economic policies of the candidates in this year’s election and decide which policies will create sustainable growth, more jobs, and more opportunities for women and men alike.