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 and Elections: Shaping the Future of American Politics, 4th Edition



    Eds. Susan J. Carroll, CAWP, Rutgers University and Richard L. Fox, Loyola Marymount University
    Cambridge University Press, 2018 Fourth Edition, 319 pages 

    The fourth edition of Gender and Elections highlights the most important developments for women as voters and candidates in the 2012 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

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    Women Voters and the Gender Gap
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  • Women Voters



    by Kelly Dittmar
    Book chapter in Minority Voting in the United States, eds. Kyle L. Kreider and Thomas J. Baldino. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2015.

    This chapter provides an overview of scholarship examining the behavior and influence of women voters in United States history, from the fight for suffrage to the emergence of gender gaps in vote choice, voter preferences, and voter turnout. Dittmar exposes and explains gender differences between men and women voters, as well as among women, and discusses how those differences influence the electoral process. This chapter introduces subsequent chapters in the volume that analyze gender differences in specific issue areas such as guns and crime, abortion, and the role of government. 

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    Women Voters and the Gender Gap






  • The Gender Gap: Gender Differences in Vote Choice and Political Orientations



    by Kelly Dittmar
    7/15/14 

    Women and men are political actors with distinct political preferences. These differences – or gender gaps – emerged in the 1980s and have been persistent since then in vote choice, party identification, and presidential performance ratings. In its latest edition of "A Closer Look," CAWP highlights what we know about gender gaps and asks key questions about potential gender differences in voting in 2014.

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    Women Voters and the Gender Gap






  • The Quest for Women’s Votes in Election 2012



    by Kira Sanbonmatsu
    Scholars Strategy Network Basic Facts

    An analysis of women voters and the role they will play in the 2012 elections. 

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    Women Voters and the Gender Gap






  • Gender Stereotypes and Gender Preferences in American Politics



    by Kira Sanbonmatsu and Kathleen Dolan
    Chapter in Improving Public Opinion Surveys: Interdisciplinary Innovation and the American National Election Studies, Eds. John H. Aldrich and Kathleen M. McGraw. Princeton University Press, 2012

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  • Organizing American Politics, Organizing Gender



    Book chapter by Kira Sanbonmatsu in The Oxford Handbook of American Elections and Political Behavior, Ed. Jan E. Leighley. 
    Oxford University Press, 2010, 800 pages

    This edited volume contains chapters by leading experts in the field of American elections and political behavior. Sanbonmatsu's chapter reviews research on gender differences in mass behavior and candidacy. She argues that future scholarship should focus on understanding the conditions under which gender structures political behavior and elections. In addition to calling for research on when gender as a social category is cued in politics, she argues that elections can create gender as a category: political behavior and elections themselves can shape beliefs about gender, instructing society about what men and women are like. 

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    Women Voters and the Gender Gap






  • Gender and Elections: Shaping the Future of American Politics, 2nd Edition



    Eds. Susan J. Carroll, CAWP, Rutgers University and Richard L. Fox, Union College, New York
    Cambridge University Press, 2009 Second Edition, 314 pages 

    The 2nd edition of this textbook describes the role of gender in the American electoral process through the 2008 elections. Tailored for courses on women and politics, elections, and gender politics, it strikes a balance between highlighting the most important developments for women as voters and candidates in the 2008 elections and providing a deeper analysis of the ways that gender has helped shape electoral politics in the United States.  Individual chapters demonstrate the importance of gender in understanding presidential elections, voter participation and turnout, voting choices, the participation of African American women

    Book
    Research
    CAWP Scholar
    Political Parties
    Candidates and Campaigns
    Women of Color in Politics
    Women Voters and the Gender Gap
    State Legislature
    Statewide Executive
    Congress
    Federal Executive






  • ​Gender Stereotypes and Attitudes Toward Gender Balance in Government



    by Kathleen Dolan and Kira Sanbonmatsu
    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

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  • 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