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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Gender Gap: Democrats and Women

Posted by Bob Brigham

"Women, if left to their own devices, are going to tend and trend Democratic. That is absolutely the case. Women are still congenitally Democratic -- and I'm the Republican pollster saying that."

- Kellyanne Conway

Yes, "congenitally Democratic" is one great line from an important story on the gender gap in today's Washington Post. It appears women are coming home to the Democratic Party.

A Democratic polling memo released yesterday found that women, who voted for President Bush last year in large numbers, have begun migrating back to their traditional home in the Democratic Party as the public's agenda has shifted from homeland security and terrorism to domestic concerns such as jobs and the economy.

There has long been a gender gap between the parties, with women tending to vote Democratic in disproportionate numbers. Bush all but closed that gap last year, losing the female vote to Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) by three percentage points. But the memo pointed to a March survey that found women favoring Democrats when asked which party's candidates they would support if congressional elections were held today.

The memo, released by Lake Snell Perry Mermin & Associates Inc., found women picked unnamed Democratic congressional candidates over Republicans by a 13-point margin. It also found that several key groups of women who voted Republican last year are now evenly or almost evenly split between the parties. Married women are now evenly split, while white women favor Democrats by three percentage points. Kerry lost both groups by 11 points.

"Homeland security and terrorism dominated the public's security agenda for several years following September 11th," the memo said. "However, the current focus appears to have shifted from safeguarding against terrorism to a stronger emphasis on issues that hit home financially. In dozens of recent focus groups among many different cohorts of women, concerns like retirement, health care and economic security are trumping the sorts of homeland security concerns that dominated women's issue agenda before the last election."

Personally, I never really bought into all that security mom crap. I tend to think that the security issues only amplified the structual issue of having a weak candidate who wouldn't stand up for anything.

I'd love to get my hands on some cross-tabs, but my gut tells me the women who are coming back to the Party are doing it because we are offering a position of strength, especially with our no compromise posture on Social Security:

The memo, which comes on what experts said is the 25th anniversary of the discovery of the gender gap, found that women are now mostly concerned with economic security (28 percent said it was their number one issue), health care (22 percent), homeland security and terrorism (21 percent), retirement security (15 percent) and crime (6 percent).

"You can't target women three days out from the election," Lake said, referring to the 2006 elections. "Both sides are asking: 'Where are they now?' "

Posted at 11:08 AM in Democrats | Technorati