Women Voters and the Gender Gap

The gender gap 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. Even if women and men favor the same candidate, they may do so by different margins, resulting in a gender gap.

Voter turnout refers to the proportion of eligible voters who cast a ballot in an election. Women have voted at higher rates than men in every presidential election since 1980, with the gap between women and men growing slightly larger with each successive election.

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.

​Gender Stereotypes and Attitudes Toward Gender Balance in Government

by Kira Sanbonmatsu and Kathleen Dolan
American Politics Research, August 2008

The desire to elect more women to public office is likely to affect a range of political behaviors and may explain the relatively low levels of women's descriptive representation overall. Yet, little is known about the public's view of the ideal gender composition of government. The authors find that the public expresses a preference for higher levels of women's representation than the country has experienced. Women are more likely than men to express a view, though men and women do not differ in their preferences on the ideal percentage of male officeholders. The article examines the role of gender stereotypes and the experience of being represented by women officeholders in shaping support for women's representation.

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Women Voters and the Gender Gap
Congress

Security Moms and Presidential Politics: Women Voters in the 2004 Election

Book chapter by Susan J. Carroll in Voting the Gender Gap
Ed. Lois Duke Whitaker 
University of Illinois Press, 2008, 232 pages

This book concentrates on the gender gap in voting--the difference in the proportion of women and men voting for the same candidate. Evident in every presidential election since 1980, this polling phenomenon reached a high of 11 percentage points in the 1996 election. Contributors discuss the history, complexity, and ways of analyzing the gender gap in voting; the gender gap in relation to partisanship; motherhood, ethnicity, and the impact of parental status on the gender gap; and the gender gap in races involving female candidates. 

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Women Voters and the Gender Gap

Super Tuesday - Proportions of Men and Women Voting for Hillary Clinton

Primary states on super Tuesday, 2/05/2008

Proportions of men and women voting for Hillary Clinton in primary states on super Tuesday, February 5, 2008.

Fact Sheet
Research
Women Voters and the Gender Gap

Moms Who Swing, or Why the Promise of the Gender Gap Remains Unfulfilled

by Susan J. Carroll
Politics & Gender (2006)

In 2004, according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the voter turnout rate for women was 60.1% compared with 56.3% for men, and across the United States 8.8 million more women than men voted. Women have voted at higher rates than men in all presidential elections since 1980, with the gap between women and men growing slightly larger in each subsequent election year. Moreover, in 2004, women outvoted men (in terms of both turnout rates and actual numbers) in every racial and ethnic group—African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, and whites (Center for American Women and Politics 2005a).

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Women Voters and the Gender Gap

Gender and Elections: Shaping the Future of American Politics, 1st Edition

Eds. Susan J. Carroll, CAWP, Rutgers University and Richard L. Fox, Union College, New York
Cambridge University Press, 2005 First Edition, 240 pages 

Gender and Elections offers a systematic, lively, multi-faceted account of the role of gender in the electoral process through the 2004 elections. This volume strikes a balance between highlighting the most important developments for women as voters and candidates in the 2004 elections and providing a more long-term, in-depth analysis of the ways that gender has helped shape the contours and outcomes of electoral politics in the United States. Individual chapters demonstrate the importance of gender in understanding and interpreting presidential elections, voter participation and turnout, voting choices, congressional elections, the participation of African American women, the support of political parties and women's organizations, candidate communications with voters, and state elections. 

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Women Voters and the Gender Gap
Women of Color in Politics
Federal Executive
Congress
Statewide Executive
State Legislature

"Political Knowledge and Gender Stereotypes"

by Kira Sanbonmatsu
American Politics Research, 2003 (November) 

This study uses original data to investigate the individual-level determinants of voters’ political gender stereotypes. The author finds that beliefs about men’s emotional suitability for politics predict voter stereotypes about the ability of politicians to handle issues, whereas political knowledge predicts voter stereotypes about politicians’ issue positions. Therefore, whereas some political gender stereotypes can primarily be explained by beliefs about the traits of men and women in general, other stereotypes are more related to knowledge about politics. This study suggests that whereas some political gender stereotypes may change if differences in the behavior of men and women politicians narrow, other stereotypes may be more enduring and less susceptible to change.

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Women Voters and the Gender Gap

Women and American Politics: New Questions, New Directions

Edited by Susan J. Carroll 
Oxford University Press, 2003, 262 pages

This volume presents a research agenda, developed by leading scholars of American politics, suggesting directions that could fruitfully shape the study of women and American politics in the early twenty-first century. Contributors suggest approaches, methods, and topics for future research on political recruitment, campaign strategy, money, political leadership, parties and women's organizations, the gender gap in voting and public opinion, media, women of color, and participation outside of conventional electoral politics.

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Candidate Recruitment
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Civic and Political Activism
Political Parties
Women Voters and the Gender Gap
Women of Color in Politics

“Gender Stereotypes and Vote Choice"

by Kira Sanbonmatsu
American Journal of Political Science, 2002 (January)

The author argues that many voters have a baseline gender preference to vote for male over female candidates, or female over male candidates. Using original survey data, the author finds that this general predisposition or preference can be explained by gender stereotypes about candidate traits, beliefs, and issue competencies, and by voter gender. The author also argues that this baseline preference affects voting behavior.

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Women Voters and the Gender Gap

The Dis-Empowerment of the Gender Gap: Soccer Moms and the 1996 Elections

by Susan J. Carroll
PS: Political Science & Politics 32 (March 1999)

The predominance of the soccer mom frame in coverage of the 1996 presidential election campaign helps to explain why the largest gender gap in the history of voting in the U.S. and strong support for Bill Clinton among women voters did not translate into substantially increased political clout for most activists who claim to represent women's interests. Instead of empowering feminist and other women's organizations, the soccer mom news frame actually led to the disempowerment of most women through its narrow portrayal of women voters and their interests. 

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Women Voters and the Gender Gap

Women and American Politics: A Research Agenda for the 21st Century

Center for American Women and Politics, Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 1996, 29 pages 

In April 1994, CAWP convened a group of 79 scholars, researchers, political practitioners, and activists to help identify existing gaps in our knowledge, discuss the reasons for the gaps, and imagine the kinds of research projects needed to address unanswered questions in our understanding of women's political behavior.

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Candidate Recruitment
Candidates and Campaigns
Civic and Political Activism
Women Voters and the Gender Gap

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