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.







  • 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

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






  • "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

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






  • “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