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EDITORIAL: Obama’s gender gap
Real men don’t vote for male eye candy
The gender gap has been a fixture on the political landscape for decades, but men have never enjoyed equal rights. The story line is about how it relates to women, even though the gap cuts both ways. A recent headline such as “What’s behind Obama’s big lead among women?” could as easily be “What’s behind Romney’s big lead among men?” Instead of a story headed “Why Obama is so popular among women” it could be “Why Romney is so popular among men.” Barack is the self-described “eye candy” sharing herbal tea on your settee. Mitt is hanging out on the couch watching the game with the guys.
How men vote is as important as which candidate women prefer, and in this election, perhaps more so. In 2008, the male vote essentially was split between Mr. Obama and John McCain, and that’s not likely to change this year. Democrats have never won the White House without gaining at least a plurality of male voters, but the contrary is not true. George W. Bush won the race in 2000 and 2004 while losing among women by 8 points both times.
The political class treats radical feminists as representatives for their sex even though they are a small group of single-issue extremists. The Obama campaign would have the country believe American women are fanatically obsessed with securing birth-control handouts. To the contrary, there’s little empirical evidence to suggest women vote much differently from men. A YWCA survey last month of more than 1,400 women found the economy, unemployment and the budget deficit topped the fairer sex’s list of national priorities. Reproductive health care and abortion were at the bottom. For women and men alike, it’s still the economy, stupid.
Other variables can weigh more heavily than sex. According to the latest Gallup survey, white women favor Mr. Romney by 7 points, 50 percent to 43 percent. Mr. Obama’s overwhelming appeal to minority women drags the female poll numbers for Republicans into negative territory. Likewise, Mr. Romney enjoys a 22-point lead among white men, but he faces a chasm among black and Hispanic males.
Marital status is another important variable. Republicans consistently have carried the married vote, and Mr. Romney has a 12-point lead among couples. Being married dramatically reverses the sex gap. In 2004, exit polls showed that while John F. Kerry secured the overall women’s vote by 8 points over George W. Bush, Mr. Bush won among married women by a commanding 16 points, 58 percent to 42 percent. There was no discernible difference between the votes cast by married women and married men.
Mr. Romney’s current challenge may not be finding ways to be more appealing to women but bringing in more men. He leads Mr. Obama by 5 points, a better showing than Mr. McCain in 2008 but still too close for comfort. Perhaps he needs a series of ads explaining his position on critical men’s issues — like football, guns and bacon.
The Washington Times
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