Study Finds Ideology Divided By Marriage
The gender gap in American politics is widening after President Joe Biden’s first two years in office as men flee the Democratic Party in droves.
Recent data from the Natural History Poll (NHP) shows that Democrats are losing ground among men even as they remain competitive among women.
In 2022 House races nationally, men favored the GOP by 14 points (56% Republican to 42% Democrat), while women favored Democrats by only 8 points (53% Democrat to 45% Republican).
The gap is even wider when broken down by marital status. Married men indicated a strong 20-point advantage (59% Republican to 39% Democrat) for Republican candidates, while Republicans pulled ahead by a much slimmer 7-point margin among unmarried men (52% Republican to 45% Democrat).
But what's more concerning for the Democratic Party is that married women still maintain a sizable 14-point advantage (56% Republican to 42% Democrat) for Republican candidates.
Single women overwhelmingly pulled the lever for Democrats in these races by a 37-point margin (68%-31%), indicating they are single-handedly keeping the Democratic Party competitive.
The GOP's edge among married women is even more pronounced when you take a longer view of the data. During Barack Obama's 2012 reelection, the GOP held a 7-point edge (51%-44%) among married women. In the 2020 presidential election, that gap widened to 16 points (60%-44%).
The latest data has some political scientists and strategists scratching their heads as to why the GOP has such a strong lead among married women.
"It's hard to say definitively why married women have shifted this much in the Republican’s favor," said Kay Riley, a political strategist and professor at American University. “It could be down to a number of factors, from issues such as religious or economic conservative policies, to a fear of crime and social turmoil, to resentment at having to self-identify as feminists and acknowleding that gender inequality still exists.”
Riley points out that the Democratic party's messaging around this issue may also be to blame, noting that President Obama and Biden both emphasized female empowerment through their policy agendas but failed to appeal to men.
"The message from the Democratic Party to men seems to be that they are, at best, worthless," she said. "Rather than engaging with men and calming their fears, the party has actually promoted the idea that men are the bad guys and should be punished for a wide range of alleged offenses.
"It's not surprising to me that men feel like they can't trust the Democrats and that married women, who are often more susceptible to their spouse's political leanings, are following suit.”
Regardless of the reason, the GOP’s ascendancy among married women could have repercussions that last far beyond one election cycle. Democrats need to refocus their messaging if they want to bridge the gap in the future.