On Politics On PoliticsOn Politics
Analysis and perspective about what's happening in the political realm.

Don’t Stereotype Voters

ARCHIVES
Lisa S./Shutterstock.com

Many of us who write about politics have a sloppy habit of using catchall phrases when we should be more specific. We use terms such as “Hispanics” and “Latinos,” for example, to describe a group of 52 million Americans whose politics differ greatly, partly depending on their ancestral country. Cuban-Americans have traditionally voted Republican, though less so in recent years. Puerto Ricans are among the most ardent groups in the Democratic base. Mexican-Americans have traditionally voted more Democratic, but as their household incomes rose through the years, their willingness to vote Republican increased as well, at least until the immigration-reform issue came to prominence again. Remember that President Bush captured 44 percent of the Latino vote in 2004, one of several key factors in his narrow victory over John Kerry. As Mitt Romney proved, it’s hard to win the White House with just 27 percent of the Hispanic vote, even if you carry white voters overwhelmingly.

The same can be said about women voters: Generalizing too much is dangerous. Overall, President Obama beat Romney by 11 points among women, who made up 53 percent of the electorate last year, while Romney carried men, who were 47 percent of the electorate, by just 7 points. In the national vote for the House of Representatives, the numbers were almost identical: Republicans carried the men’s vote by 8 points, and Democrats won the women’s vote by 11 points.

But when you start slicing and dicing the women’s vote, big differences emerge that sometimes contradict the broad assumptions. For example, Romney’s 11-point deficit among all women masked a 14-point winning percentage among white women, 56 percent to 42 percent. Indeed, 45 percent of all Romney voters were white women; 44 percent were white men. (Women edged out men because there were more women in the electorate.)

Other big differences among women are tied to marital status: Single women vote more Democratic; married women vote more Republican. And women with children vote more Republican than those without kids.

The observation that the women’s vote is complicated is not new. Indeed, this column has focused a great deal on the cohort of Walmart moms, a group making up 12 to 17 percent of the electorate that has been explored in great detail by Alex Bratty and Neil Newhouse of the Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies (who coined the phrase) and Democratic pollster Margie Omero of Purple Strategies (formerly Momentum Analysis).

Another top Republican pollster, Linda DiVall of American Viewpoint, recently released a report (with an interesting interactive graphic atwww.amview.com) segmenting women into 11 groups, or typologies. Based on a national survey, the graphic shows how these typologies differ on Obama’s job approval, the generic congressional ballot test, favorable/unfavorable ratings for the two major parties, the right direction/wrong track numbers, and top economic concerns.In DiVall’s analysis, the three groups most disposed to voting Democratic were “Millennials,” who preferred Democrats for Congress by 64 percent to 19 percent; “Married Moderates,” who voted Democratic 57 percent to 20 percent; and “Single Professionals,” who sided with Democrats 57 percent to 28 percent. Democrats captured 57 percent or more among each group on the generic ballot test. Not far behind were “Socal-Media Mavens,” who use Facebook more than once a day; they backed Democrats 53 percent to 26 percent on the generic ballot test.

Most supportive of Republicans were “The Disenchanted,” who are pessimistic about the direction of the country and disapproving of both Obama and their own members of Congress; and “Medicare Women,” ages 65 and older. Those groups favored Republicans 60 percent to 12 percent, and 51 percent to 27 percent, respectively. In between were “Married Homemakers,” “Baby Boomers,” “Walmart Women,” “Generation X,” and “Suburban Women.”

Pointing to the finding that 46 percent of women thought government was trying to do too much, versus just 39 percent who thought government should do more, DiVall argues that Republicans have opportunities to improve their standing with female voters if they use better messages for each group and run more female candidates, a point that Republican strategists have been talking up in recent weeks.

DiVall and other pollsters who have been waging a campaign within the party for better messaging since the election (and many before then) seem to have won over many GOP congressional leaders but are encountering strong resistance from the rank and file. If Republicans want to appeal only to older white men, their rhetoric would not have to change one iota. But with the makeup of the electorate changing dramatically, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the Republican Party has an unsustainable business model.

This article appears in the July 13, 2013, edition of National Journal as Beyond Stereotypes.

(Image via Lisa S./Shutterstock.com)

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.