2018 voting gender gap is becoming an abyss

A sign from the January 2018 Women’s March in Chicago. When millions upon millions of women turned out to protest nationwide, you know there’s gonna be a whole lotta voting going on come November 6.

The figures are stunning, but they’re really not surprising. The energy of women voters to turn out in this year’s midterm elections has been building since November of 2016.

There have now been a few polls conducted after the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court — a move that was supposed to make Republican voters more enthusiastic about voting — and the upshot is that more and more women are moving further and further away from the GOP.

A CNN poll showed that a whopping 63 percent of women are likely to support a Democrat over a Republican (33 percent of women respondents). The entire poll gives Democrats a 13-point edge in the generic ballot, 54 percent to 41 percent. Overall, men who were polled still favored Republicans, but by a smaller margin: 50 percent to 45 percent.

That’s a 35-point gender gap, even larger than ones seen earlier this summer, when FiveThirtyEight predicted a possible record-breaking gender gap in the midterm elections. At that time, the compilation of polls showed gender gaps in the range of 20 to 25 points. While that would be historic on its own, a 35-point gap is unheard of.

Why might it actually happen? There’s also an enthusiasm gap between men and women voters, small but reversed from the normal voting pattern, according to the same CNN poll:

Women are not significantly more enthusiastic to vote than men: 57% are extremely or very enthusiastic compared to 53% of men. This is, however, a shift from what we usually see in a midterm election year. In 2010 at this point, 46% of women voters were enthusiastic about voting in the midterm election vs. 54% of men. In 2014, a very low turnout year, 32% of men were enthusiastic compared to 28% of women. …

If women were to vote as the likely voter number suggests, it would be Democrats strongest performance in the House race in the history of modern exit polling (back to 1976). The previous record for women voting Democratic was in 1982, when Democrats got the nod of 58% of women voters.

A Politico/Morning Consult poll showed the biggest gender gap when it comes to voter motivation: 57 percent of women are “very motivated” to vote, while only 32 percent of men are “very motivated.” Even combining the “very motivated” and “somewhat motivated” numbers, women voters still beat men: A total of 81 percent of women are motivated compared with 71 percent of men.

Enthusiastic women voters? Check. A record number of women candidates, the vast majority of them Democrats? Check. A higher percentage of women donating money in record amounts to women and Democratic candidates? Check again. And the most important check mark of all: More women than men turn out to vote.

Recent data from Pew Research reported by Vox show that the younger the woman, the more likely she is to vote for a Democrat. Women 50 and older favored Democrats over Republicans 48 to 45 percent; women 35 to 49 chose a Democrat over a Republican 52 to 36 percent, and women 18 to 34 chose a Democrat 68 to 24 percent. For men, those figures showed the opposite: men 50 and older, 48 percent Republican to 43 percent Democratic; men 35 to 49, 50 percent GOP to 39 percent Democratic; and men 18 to 34, 50 GOP to 47 percent Democratic.

(Seriously, GenX men — 50 percent Republican to 39 percent Democratic? What the hell is wrong with you?)

A Politico Magazine analysis by E.J. Graff, managing editor of The Monkey Cage at The Washington Post and a senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, posed the question of whether Donald Trump was permanently moving women away from the GOP. Maybe it’s not permanent, but it could last a long time.

An earlier Politico/Morning Consult poll reported that Republican women — 84 percent of them! — still strongly back Trump. The GOP’s problem is that the number of Republican women is dropping. As the Politico story pointed out:

Fewer and fewer American women identify as Republicans, and that slow migration is speeding up under Trump. My conversations with pollsters, political scientists and a number of women across the country who have recently rejected their lifelong Republicans identities suggested the same — and illuminate why this moment in American politics might prove a breaking point for women in the GOP. According to pollsters on both sides of the aisle, that doesn’t bode well for the Republican Party either in this fall’s midterms — which are likely to bring a record gap between how men and women vote — or for the party’s long-term future.

So where are these women going? Some are identifying as Democrats, and some are identifying as independents, but they’re definitely shifting away from the GOP, even if it’s not forever. As Politico quoted Democratic pollster Anna Greenberg, Trump’s election put this gender shift “on steroids.” But it’s not just Trump, as Graff pointed out:

Trump alone didn’t push these women to shed their Republican labels; other GOP politicians’ unquestioning support for Trump did that. Several told me they were angry that an all-Republican government has become the party of fiscal waste, deficits, trade wars and rebates for the wealthy. … “The Republican Party to me seems like it’s being run by white, upper-class or wealthy businessmen who aren’t paying attention to the rest of us.”

There are plenty of things to add to that list, of course, such as kidnapping immigrant children and keeping them separated from their parents, tolerating wasteful spending and high-flying travel by Trump Cabinet members, ignoring the peril of climate change and embracing new policies that will make the global climate much worse, and railroading white and male ultra-conservative judges onto the federal bench. Just to name a few.

Trump loves to falsely brag that he got “52 percent of the women’s vote” in 2016. That was only true of white women voters; overall, Trump got only 41 percent of the women’s vote. But why ruin a good narrative, even if he’s lying through his capped teeth?

In any case, even some of those white women voters are abandoning the GOP. From a story by CNBC’s John Harwood:

The share of women who call themselves Republicans has fallen, while the share who call themselves Democrats has risen.

Anti-Trump sentiment has been particularly pronounced among college-educated white women. That once Republican-leaning constituency now favors Democrats for Congress by 53 percent to 31 percent, according to the most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

Donald Trump is taking time away from his TV watching and his golf game to attend a series of ego-stroking and fact-free rallies for Republican candidates in key races in several states. He’s betting that his popularity with his Trump-worshiping base will be enough to give GOP candidates the edge in many close races, even though he’s given up tweeting his laughable claim of a “Red Wave.”

But the more he screams his lies during his rallies, the more he prods his sheep-like supporters to chant “LOCK HER UP!” when it’s not even about Hillary Clinton any more, the more he mocks the #MeToo movement, and the more he disparages sexual assault survivor Christine Blasey Ford, the more determined the majority of women voters will be to reject Trump by proxy and cast their vote for a Democrat.

Originally posted on Daily Kos on Oct. 14, 2018.

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