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The Female Electorate Splits, Men Carry the Election

In the midterms, the female electorate outnumbered men, 53% to 47%. But in race after race it was men who cast the deciding vote. How could this be true?

by
Carey Roberts

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November 10, 2010 - 12:00 am
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Leading up to Tuesday’s election, all the pundits were predicting this would be the Year of the Woman. And true to form, the female electorate outnumbered men, 53% to 47%. But after the polling places had closed and the ballots had been counted, in race after race it was men who cast the deciding vote.

How could this be true?

The reason is the female vote split right down the middle — 49% going for the Republicans and 48% for the Democrats. In contrast, the male electorate was far more unified, with 56% giving the nod to the GOP candidate and 42% going Democratic, as highlighted by this CNN poll. (The percentages don’t add to 100% because of third party candidates.)

So in Florida, 64% of men pulled the lever for Rubio, while only 44% of women did the same, handing Rubio a convincing 20-point gender gap advantage with men. In New Hampshire, 65% of men supported Kelly Ayotte, compared to 55% of women. In Pennsylvania, Republican Pat Toomey scored a 10-point advantage with the male electorate. And in Wisconsin, insurgent GOP candidate Ron Johnson edged out incumbent Russ Feingold thanks to an 8-point lead with the guy team.

For sure, the female vote appeared to be decisive in some senatorial races, such as in Arkansas, Illinois, and South Carolina. But far more often, a look at the exit poll numbers reveals men were the electoral king-makers, such as in Indiana (Dan Coats), Ohio (Rob Portman), and in countless House races.

Despite the euphoria of the moment, one sobering fact remains: Despite heady pre-election predictions, the Republicans did not take the Senate. There the Democrats still rule the roost with a solid 53-47 majority.

Let’s look at the four races where Republican candidate ran neck-and-neck with the Democratic opponent throughout the campaign, but in the end faltered: Nevada, Colorado, California, and Washington.

In the closely watched Nevada contest, Harry Reid’s web site featured a six-page “Working for Women’s Issues” promo, festooned with 13 “Highlights of Senator Reid’s Women’s Issues Record.” Yes, Harry is a swell guy!

So how did Sharron Angle counter in order to attract the male vote? Well, do a web search on the words “Sharron Angle” and “men’s issues,” and you’ll come up drier than a red-spotted toad marooned on the macadam in a Nevada heat wave.

So in the end, 53% of women went for Harry Reid, and 48% of men voted for Sharon Angle. First Lost Opportunity.

In Colorado, the contest featured weeks of Democratic Party ads hitting Buck for his supposedly less-than-progressive views on women’s rights. “Ken Buck. He’s too extreme for Colorado” became the Democratic sing-along.

And what was Buck’s proactive approach to attracting men? Among campaign strategists, it’s known as the 3-Z strategy: Zip, Zilch, and Zero. As a result, 56% of women voted Democratic and 53% of men went Republican.

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