TRR: Obama’s White Woman Problem

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The “gender gap” is an established theme in American politics. Democrats count on a disproportionate number of votes from women to offset the corresponding Republican advantage among men. As expected, the Gallup July 16-August 5 survey of registered voters shows President Obama leading Republican challenger Mitt Romney by eight percent among women. But factor in ethnicity and it’s another matter. If the 2012 election were decided by white women, Mr. Obama would be soundly trounced.

The same Gallup survey that shows Mr. Obama with a 50-42 edge among all women voters reveals the exact opposite result among white women, who back Mr. Romney by the same 50-42 margin. But 20% of the women voters in the Gallup sample were nonwhite, where the gap is much more pronounced. Nonwhite women voters prefer Mr. Obama over Mr. Romney by 40 points. This margin is what drags the overall women’s vote into negative territory for the challenger.

There is a similar dynamic among male voters. Mr. Romney has a 7 point edge among all men, but among white men his lead is 26 percent. Among nonwhite men he loses by 33 percent. Within-group preferences differ somewhat; the gender gap among nonwhites is less pronounced than among whites, but men in both groups support Mr. Romney more than women do in the same groups.

The numbers reconfirm the fact that Mr. Obama hasn’t helped bring about the post-racial future we were promised. And when it comes to attracting women voters, Mr. Romney is doing better than the conventional wisdom or feminist activists are willing to admit.

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About the Author

James S. Robbins

James S. Robbins, Ph.D., former Senior Editorial Writer for Foreign Affairs, was formerly professor of international relations at the National Defense University, associate professor of international relations at the U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College and special assistant in the Office of the Secretary of Defense under Donald Rumsfeld. Dr. Robbins is author of the recently released "This Time ...

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