Monday, September 06, 2010

Where Are The Wimminz?

Or: It's a few months to the midterm elections. Do you know where your base voters are?

A new Gallup poll suggests that large chunks of the base of the Democratic Party are not that into the midterm elections:

Earlier this year, President Obama identified women, blacks, and young voters among the groups he highlighted as critical to a voter mobilization effort designed to help the Democrats hold their congressional majority. These groups made up a good portion of the "new voters" who propelled Obama to victory in 2008. However, Gallup data suggest they are not poised to provide the same kind of boost for Democratic candidates this fall. As a result, and because of the extraordinarily keen interest in the elections that conservative Republicans currently display, Republicans overall currently enjoy a 54% to 30% lead over Democrats in "thought given to the election."

Mmm. Have a look at the tables in the original link. Note something weird? The interest levels of the groups "blacks" and "young adults" are lower than in 2010, but the relative gap in interest has almost always existed between "young adults" and "older adults" and between "blacks" and "non-Hispanic whites".

Something different is going on with the female-male interest gap: The interest in the midterm elections women show is quite a lot lower than the interest men show. But this is NOT a return to some pre-existing trend. It looks like something new:

Left-click on the graph to make it bigger.

What is going on here?

It could be that any poll done in late August would have shown a similar gender gap? Note that the earlier polls in that graph were all taken in October or November. Women might have more on their minds at the beginning of the school year than men, what with the former still being mostly responsible for the management of children. All the trend graphs suggest that general interest levels are lower in August, so it's not impossible that we may be just seeing some kind of a typical August gender gap here.

But perhaps not. It could be that the gender gap we see here is a brand new one and something the administration should seriously think about. The group "women" has lots of voters in it, and if those voters stay at home the Democratic goose is cooked even faster.

Finally, perhaps the gender gap is just an artifact of the gap between Republicans and Democrats in interest levels. Men are more likely to vote Republican than women, and Democrats, in general, are more down-in-the-dumps right now.

Either of the last two explanations should serve as a wake-up call for the Democratic Party.
P.S. These polls should include more detailed breakdowns. For instance, if the level of interest was given separately for women who have school-aged children we might be able to test the first guess I offer above. Likewise, a cross-tabulation of gender and political party membership would let us say something about the third guess.