Women traditionally have had different concerns in politics from men, and it has shown in the most recent national election in the United States. Barack Obama was elected with a twelve percentage point advantage among women, whereas Romney had an eight percent advantage among men. 2012 marked the largest disparity since 1952 between men and women.
The 2014 midterm elections will be on November 4, 2014, and political strategists are already planning around a turnout that will be greatly reduced compared to 2012, not to mention 2008. Among the factors to consider is young women’s turnout now outnumbering that of young men’s, a potential indicator for the voting population in the future1.
Fundamentally, women have different priorities than men, with more women emphasizing the minimum wage, Obamacare, the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, and college tuition as major issues (on top of the economy and deficit)2. These interests were more highly emphasized during Obama’s State of the Union than the issues with which men are concerned (for example, men are more concerned with reforming the intelligence system3).
Additionally, women of color were more sympathetic to Obama, believing that his problems were inherited from the previous administration. His response to Hurricane Sandy was a factor in their choice to vote more often than for other voters4.
The Republican Party is facing a crisis in which they are unable to attract women voters, who are making up a larger part of the electorate than men. But it is not only an issue of speaking “badly” in terms of contraception and abortion—some women are against the government providing contraception or allowing abortions to take place. However, people normally do not vote based on these “social issues”; their vote is more based on economic factors. Women clearly prioritize access to health care, a higher minimum wage, and the costs of education higher than the Republican Party traditionally has. For the Republican Party, it is no longer just a matter of how they “speak” to women (or of women)–to reach out to female voters, they must change the emphasis of their party platform.
The Democratic party is facing a crisis of its own in that it is losing men, especially white men. The Democrats are currently a party based on coalitions—they have to appeal to the interests of technically different groups, such as appealing to women’s interests, to Latino interests, to Asian interests, etc. Somehow they must acknowledge and work on all these issues, without causing the Democratic party to fragment.
The two parties in this country cannot continue in the way that they have been for years, simply because the United States is changing underneath their feet.