Ron Paul’s been playing to big crowds in Iowa and New Hampshire, but there’s something striking about them — there are usually way more men than women at his events.
That gender gap was evident in the voting in Iowa, too, where entrance polls before the caucuses showed he won a larger percentage of the male vote than the female vote. The gap is persisting into New Hampshire, where The Washington Times/JZ Analytics poll released last week found a 12 percentage point difference between his support from men and women.
Following Iowa’s voting, his supporters took note.
“Huge gender gap! We are not getting women voters!” read the headline on an active discussion on DailyPaul.com, an independent website that has become a must-read forum for his supporters.
The topic drew more than 300 replies, making it one of the most popular issues on the site over the past week. Explanations included Mr. Paul’s pro-life stance on abortion and remarks that women do not value liberty as much as men and that female voters do not find Mr. Paul as physically attractive as other candidates.
Susan J. Carroll, senior scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, said the explanation is probably no more complex than Mr. Paul’s limited-government views. She said those can alienate women who are more likely than men to be care providers, and who count on government assistance in those roles.
“The one thing that does divide women and men in the general electorate is their views on the role of government, with men being much more likely to want to cut back on government than women are,” she said.
Polls suggest Mr. Paul is positioned for a second-place finish in New Hampshire on Tuesday, following his third-place showing in Iowa. Next up is South Carolina and then Florida, where all of the candidates will have to quickly broaden their appeal by way of television ads and mass communication, rather than the town-hall meetings and personal contact that prevail in Iowa and New Hampshire.
The Paul campaign did not respond to a request for comment for this article.
The gender gap has been evident in general elections since 1980, with women favoring Democrats and men favoring Republicans. But it is not as common in primaries, where voters are cut from more ideologically uniform cloth and are choosing candidates based on electability or how well they conform to orthodoxy.
This year, though, the numbers showing a striking gap for Mr. Paul.
The entrance poll taken by the Associated Press and the major broadcast networks of those walking into Iowa’s caucuses last week found him getting support of 24 percent of male voters — most of any of the candidates — but just 19 percent of female voters, for a gender gap of 5 points.
New Hampshire is shaping up to be even more stark. The Times/JZ Analytics poll taken Wednesday, the day after Iowa’s caucuses, found a 12 percentage point gap between Mr. Paul’s share of male likely voters and his share of female supporters.
The gap between his married and single supporters is more pronounced. He was winning support of nearly half of all single voters in the New Hampshire survey, but from just 17 percent of married voters.
On the DailyPaul forum, his supporters viewed the matter chiefly not as a comment on how well he was doing with men, but on how poorly he was doing with women. They debated whether it was a matter of his stance on the issues or the packaging of his message.