Pew Research has released a new poll detailing Americans’ attitudes toward women in government. With more women running for Congress than at any point in history, public opinion is on their side. At least Democrats think it is a good thing. Republicans, not so much.
Overall, according to Pew’s numbers, “About six-in-ten Americans (61%) say it’s a good thing that more women are running for U.S. Congress this year than in the past, while a third say this is neither good nor bad. Just 5% see this as a bad thing.”
The numbers become more interesting when you start to break the demographics down:
Women are more likely than men (68% vs. 54%) to view the increased number of female congressional candidates as a positive development, but views are divided even more sharply along partisan lines. Eight-in-ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say it’s a good thing that more women are running; about half as many Republicans and Republican leaners (39%) say the same.
Among Democrats, large majorities of men (75%) and women (83%) say it’s a good thing that more women are running for Congress this year than in the past. Republican women are about evenly divided: 45% say this is a good thing and 47% say it’s neither good nor bad. Republican men are the least likely to see the surge of female candidates as a good thing (34% express this view, while 54% say it’s neither good nor bad).
This growing approval for female politicians has also translated into support for having a woman serve as president. Around 40 percent of Americans would like to see a woman elected president. Writing about a woman president, Pew concludes, “there is some evidence that whether a potential female president is a Republican or a Democrat matters.”
I’m not entirely convinced that Pew’s conclusion is correct.
A quick look at the numbers show that 29 women are vying for a Senate seat, 18 Democrats and 11 Republicans. The House has an even bigger disparity. Of the 271 women running for a seat in the lower House, 206 are Democrats; only 65 are Republicans. I’m curious what the poll’s numbers would have revealed if more conservative women were running as opposed to the majority of women running being leftists.
An important thing to note is that 34 percent of Republican men say that it’s a good thing that more women are running, “while 54% say it’s neither good nor bad.” That’s 88 percent of Republican men.
Here’s why I’m not convinced that Pew’s numbers are an accurate reflection of Republican men’s views of females running for office:
How questions are shaped as well as the timing of the questions are important variables when reading polls. So, for example, if I had been polled by Pew, I would’ve been counted among the 54 percent of conservative men who think that more women running is neither good nor bad. The reason I would answer that way is because the majority of women running are leftists. For me, the record number of women running is a wash. If the majority of women running were conservatives, I’d be happy.
I don’t know that Pew, nor anyone else, can be confident that this poll reveals something misogynistic or sinister about GOP men. It may simply reveal that GOP men were reacting to the political positions of the women running. I’m quite confident that if Nikki Haley were running for president against Joe Biden, for example, the vast majority of Republican men would be happy that a woman is running.