Female voter myths
April 22, 2012 2 Comments
This week’s “5 myths” in the Post is myths about women voters. As usual, some of them don’t seem very myth-y to me, i.e., does anybody really think that we can look at female voters as a single, homogenous bloc? I did like myth #3, though, as this seems particularly pervasive in a lot of journalistic accounts:
3. Women vote based on “women’s issues,” such as abortion rights and contraception.
A recent poll of voters in swing states showed that women’s top priorities are health care, gas prices, unemployment and the deficit — in that order — with “government policies toward contraception” coming in last. (Women are, however, much more likely than men to rate government policy on birth control as important — 55 percent to 35 percent in the same USA Today-Gallup poll.)
Even on abortion rights, women are nearly as divided as the country as a whole, which broke 49 percent to 45 percent in favor of abortion rights in Gallup polling last year. And though 50 percent of women identify as pro-choice and 44 percent as pro-life, age and party affiliation are far better predictors than gender of views on abortion.
Yep. Every class I teach, I like to start out with a very basic True/False quiz on the first day to try and show my students that they might actually be wrong about a variety of things they think they already know. The question that they probably most persistently get wrong is “women are substantially more likely than men to think abortion should be legal.” Nope. There are some interesting differences in how men and women see politics (and, in fact, women do care more about abortion– on both sides of the issue), but by and large, women are voting on the same sorts of things as men.