#WomenVote2014: Tracking the Gender Gap and the Women’s Vote in 2014

Much attention has been paid to women voters throughout the 2014 cycle, whether by candidates or commentators. Most recently, some political observers have questioned whether or not the gender-specific political messages or themes evident in this cycle have resonated with women and, if so, with which women. Others have asked whether or not targeting women voters is effective at all, raising questions about why women are so important to electoral outcomes. In this outlook, we prepare for Election Day by highlighting the historic facts about women voters and the gender gap, while clarifying the distinction between the women’s vote and the gender gap. In this election cycle media reports have frequently confused the two, actually reporting on the women’s vote but calling it the gender gap.We also present both measures (the women’s vote and the gender gap) from the most recent polls in competitive contests for governor and the U.S. Senate, demonstrating that historic trends persist in 2014; across nearly all contests, women are more likely than men to support the Democratic candidates. The Women’s Vote vs. The Gender Gap Media coverage this election season has featured some confusing mislabeling of the gender gap and women’s voting patterns. To clarify: The Gender Gap in voting is the difference between the proportions of women and men who support a given candidate, generally the leading or winning candidate. It is the gap between the genders, not within a gender.

[% Women for Leading or Winning Candidate] – [% Men for Leading or Winning Candidate] = Gender Gap

The Women's Vote describes the division in women’s support for major party candidates in any given race. It is the percentage-point advantage that one candidate has over the other among women voters – that is, the difference in women’s support for the Democratic and Republican candidates.

[% Women for Leading Party’s Candidate] – [% Women for Trailing Party’s Candidate] = Women's Vote

This distinction is important because even when women and men favor the same candidate, they usually do so by different margins, resulting in a gender gap.  For example, we frequently see a gender gaps even in races where the women’s vote breaks for the Republican - i.e., where more women voters prefer the Republican candidate than the Democratic candidate. The FACTS on Why Women’s Votes Matter
  • Women vote in higher numbers than men and have done so in every election since 1964. In 2012, 9.8 million more women than men voted. Women have voted at higher rates than men since 1980. In 2012, 63.7% of eligible female adults went to the polls, compared to 59.8% of eligible male adults. Even in midterm elections, when voter turnout is lower among men and women, women vote in higher numbers and at higher rates than men.
  • More women than men register to vote. Some 81.7 million women were registered to vote in 2012, compared to 71.4 million men.
  • There has been a gender gap in every presidential election since 1980. In the 2012 election, women were 10 percentage points more likely than men to vote for Barack Obama (55% of women vs. 45% of men), according to the exit poll conducted by Edison Research. Gender gaps were also evident in major races for governor and the U.S. Senate in 2012, with women’s votes critical to Democratic candidates’ success.
  • There also has been a gender gap in congressional voting in every recent midterm election. In 2010 there was a 6-point gender gap, with 51% of women compared with 57% of men voting for the Republican candidate in their district.  In 2006, there was a 4-point gender gap, with 56% of women and 52% of men voting for the Democratic candidate in their district. 
Gender, Voting, and the 2014 Election The tables below report the gender gaps and women’s vote evident in polls in the 11 most competitive U.S. Senate contests and 18 most competitive gubernatorial contests in 2014.  In most (but not all) races the women’s vote favors the Democratic candidate.  Gender gaps are evident in all races, although some are within the margin of error for the poll. The results reported here are from the latest polls available via Real Clear Politics where gender breakdowns were made publicly available. Two polls are reported in Georgia’s Senate and gubernatorial races because the gender results – both from the same time period – differed significantly. Competitive Senate Contests
State Candidate Overall Gender Gap Women's Vote Women  Men Date/Source
AK Mark Begich (D) Dan Sullivan (R) 44% 48% 20 pts. +17% Begich 54% 37% 34% 57% NYTimes/CBS News/YouGov (Oct. 16-23)
AR Mary Pryor (D) Tom Cotton (R) 41% 49% 15 pts. +4% Pryor 46% 42% 35% 57% Public Policy Polling Oct. 30 -Nov. 1) 
CO Mark Udall (D) Cory Gardner (R) 44% 46% 11 pts. +6% Udall 47% 41% 40% 52% Denver Post/SurveyUSA (Oct. 27-29)
GA Michelle Nunn (D) David Perdue (R) 46.6% 47.4% 14 pts. +12% Nunn 53% 41% 39% 55% WSB/Landmark (Oct. 29)
Michelle Nunn (D) David Perdue (R) 44% 48% 2 pts. +2% Perdue 45% 47% 43% 49% NBC/Marist Poll (Oct. 27-30)
IA Bruce Braley (D) Joni Ernst (R) 41% 51% 14 pts. +7% Braley 51% 44% 36% 58% Des Moines Register (Oct. 28-31) 
KS Greg Orman (I) Pat Roberts (R) 44% 43% 4 pts.  +7% Orman 46% 39% 42% 47% Fox News (Oct. 28-30)
KY Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) Mitch McConnell (R) 41% 50% 3 pts.  +7% McConnell 42% 49% 41% 52% NBC/Marist Poll (Oct. 27-30)
LA Mary Landrieu (D) Bill Cassidy (R) 45% 50% 15 pts. +7% Landrieu 50% 43% 39% 58% NBC/Marist Poll (Oct. 27-30)
NC Kay Hagan (D) Thom Tillis (R) 43% 42% 8 pts. +8% Hagan 47% 39% 39% 46% Fox News (Oct. 28-30)
NH Jeanne Shaheen (D) Scott Brown (R) 49% 49% 11 pts. +11% Shaheen 54% 43% 43% 54% American Research Group (Oct. 27-29)
VA Mark Warner (D) Ed Gillespie (R) 51% 44% 3 pts.  +10% Warner 53% 43% 50% 45% Christopher Newport University (Oct. 23-29) 
The gender gap in competitive Senate races, based on the most recent polls, ranges from 2 to 20 points. In all but two contests, the women’s vote favors the Democratic candidate by anywhere between 4 and 17 percentage points. In Kentucky, the latest NBC/Marist Poll shows Republican Mitch McConnell leading Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes among both men and women voters (+7 percentage points among women), but a gender gap of 3 points is evident, with men more likely than women to support McConnell. In Georgia, the latest NBC/Marist Poll shows Republican David Perdue leading Democrat Michelle Nunn among both men and women voters (+2 percentage points among women voters), with women voters 2 percentage points less likely to support Perdue than men (2-point gender gap).  However, there is a 14- point gender gap in the WSB/Landmark Poll from Georgia over the same time period, and the women’s vote advantages Nunn by 12 percentage points. Competitive Gubernatorial Contests

State

Candidate

Overall

Gender Gap

Women's Vote

Women

Men

Date/Source

AK Sean Parnell (R) Bill Walker (I)

38% 34%

8 pts.

Equal split

33% 33%

41% 34%

NYTimes/CBS News/YouGov (Oct. 16-23)
AR Mike Ross (D) Asa Hutchinson (R)

41% 51%

10 pts.

+1% Hutchinson

45% 46%

36% 56%

Public Policy Polling Oct. 30 -Nov. 1)
AZ Fred DuVal (D) Doug Ducey (R)

40% 50%

14 pts.

+2% DuVal

45% 43%

35% 57%

NYTimes/CBS News/YouGov (Oct. 16-23)
CO John Hickenlooper (D) Bob Beauprez (R)

46% 46%

5 pts./ 9 pts.

+7% Hickenlooper

48% 41%

43% 50%

Denver Post/SurveyUSA (Oct. 27-29)
CT Dannel Malloy (D) Tom Foley (R)

44% 41%

10 pts.

+13% Malloy

49% 36%

39% 47%

Public Policy Polling Oct. 30 -Nov. 1)
FL Charlie Crist (D) Rick Scott (R)

41% 41%

6 pts./ 7pts.

+6% Crist

44% 38%

38% 45%

YouGov (Oct. 25-31)
GA Jason Carter (D) Nathan Deal (R)

46% 48%

14 pts.

+11% Carter

52% 41%

39% 55%

WSB/Landmark (Oct. 29)
  Jason Carter (D) Nathan Deal (R)

43% 48%

4 pts.

Equal split

46% 46%

40% 50%

NBC/Marist Poll (Oct. 27-30)
IL Pat Quinn (D) Bruce Rauner (R)

45% 41%

6 pts.

+16% Quinn

48% 32%

42% 51%

NYTimes/CBS News/YouGov (Oct. 16-23)
KS Paul Davis (D) Sam Brownback (R)

48% 42%

8 pts.

+15% Davis

52% 37%

44% 46%

Fox News (Oct. 28-30)
MA Martha Coakley (D) Charlie Baker (R)

42% 46%

9 pts.

+4% Coakley

45% 41%

37% 50%

Public Policy Polling Oct. 30 -Nov. 1)
MD Anthony Brown (D) Larry Hogan (R)

51% 38%

15 pts.

+18% Brown

58% 30%

43% 48%

NYTimes/CBS News/YouGov (Oct. 16-23)
ME Mike Michaud (D) Paul LePage (R) Eliot Cutler (I)

37% 35% 7%

11 pts.

+9% Michaud

42% 33% 6%

31% 38% 7%

NYTimes/CBS News/YouGov (Oct. 16-23)
MI Mark Schauer (D) Rick Snyder (R)

43% 48%

9 pts.

+4% Schauer

48% 44%

39% 53%

Mitchell Research (Oct. 27)
MN Mark Dayton (D) Jeff Johnson (R)

45% 38%

13 pts.

+19% Dayton

51% 32%

38% 45%

Star Tribune Minnesota Poll (Oct. 20-22)
NH Maggie Hassan (D) Walt Havenstein (R)

48% 36%

7 pts.

+10% Hassan

52% 42%

45% 50%

American Research Group (Oct. 27-29)
OR John Kitzhaber (D) Dennis Richardson (R)

50% 40%

11 pts.

+19% Kitzhaber

55% 36%

44% 45%

Survey USA (Oct. 23-27)
RI Gina Raimondo (D) Allan Fung (R)

38% 37%

2 pts.

+2% Raimondo

39% 37%

37% 38%

Brown University (Oct. 25-26)
WI Mary Burke (D) Scott Walker (R)

43% 45%

7 pts.

+4% Burke

45% 41%

41% 48%

YouGov (Oct. 25-31)
The gender gap in competitive gubernatorial races, based on the most recent polls, ranges from 2 to 15 points. In all but two contests, the women’s vote favors the Democratic candidate by anywhere between 2 and 19 percentage points. Even in Arkansas and Alaska, where the women’s vote is equally split or slightly favors the Republican candidate, women are still more likely than men to support the Democratic candidate. Results vary significantly in the two most recent Georgia polls, although women voters are more likely than men to support Democrat Jason Carter in both. CAWP will monitor the women’s vote and the gender gap on Election Day, using exit polls to identify and analyze gender differences in turnout and vote choice. Follow CAWP on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates and releases on women voters in this year’s races.