Michael Totten

The Gender Gap Vanishes

John Kerry is the Energizer Bunny of losers. He takes a licking and keeps on sinking.
Not only do men prefer Bush to Kerry, women now prefer Bush to Kerry, too.

In the last few weeks, Kerry campaign officials have been nervously eyeing polls that show an erosion of the senator’s support among women, one of the Democratic Party’s most reliable constituencies. In a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted last week, women who are registered to vote were more likely to say they would vote for Mr. Bush than for Mr. Kerry, with 48 percent favoring Mr. Bush and 43 percent favoring Mr. Kerry. [Emphasis added.]

A five point difference isn’t huge. It is almost within the margin of error. But the Democratic Party has had a lock on the female half of the population for as long as I’ve been paying attention to politics.
September 11 really has changed a lot. And the Democrats, supposedly the pro-change “progressive” party, are stuck in the past.
The Republicans have proven themselves a lot more flexible and adaptive. It’s partly an accident of history. They happened to be in power when the jets hit the towers. If the Democrats were in charge on that day I expect the Republicans would be scrambling to keep up with the shift in America’s mood. It’s hard to adjust to instant change when you’re stuck in the opposition. You feel obligated to oppose everything new.
In any case, John Kerry is trying to get his gender gap back.

It was no accident that John Kerry appeared Tuesday on “Live With Regis and Kelly” and recalled his days as a young prosecutor in a rape case. Or that he then flew from New York to Jacksonville, Fla., to promote his health care proposals. Or that on Thursday in Davenport, Iowa, he will preside over a forum on national security with an audience solely of women.

These appearances are part of an energetic drive by the Kerry campaign to win back voters that Democrats think are rightfully theirs: women.

He doesn’t get it. I mean, he really doesn’t get it at all. The world changed, okay? A campaign that would have been effective on September 10 doesn’t resonate with people today.
Kerry fails to understand that women, at least a significant number of those in the center, are more likely than before September 11 to admire toughness and strength. It’s not that he’s been neglecting “women’s issues” and needs to catch up. Rather, “men’s issues” are more important to most people now.
I hate to put it that way, and I apologize if it seems ridiculous. I don’t think of myself as a “man” when I vote. I have never asked myself who’s the most manly? and voted accordingly. (“Women’s” candidates have always won my vote anyway.) And I seriously doubt the women who moved to the right did so because they think Bush is “girlier” than Kerry. What a laugh! For one thing, hardly anyone actually thinks in those terms. And if they did Kerry would still have his edge among women. George W. Bush is not more “feminine” or “nurturing” or “caring” than John Kerry.
But Kerry seems to believe people do think that way. And that’s precisely why he’s losing support among women right now. “Women’s issues” still matter, and they matter to me. But they are not front and center this year.