Voting gender gap in the United States

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The voting gender gap is the difference in voting turnout between men and women . [1]


With the advent of women's suffrage in 1920 many women were off to the polls. But in recent history women have exceeded men in voter turnout. From 1976 to 2008 women have steadily spread the gap. For more than 60 years after women’s suffrage the female population turned out less often than men. This was true from 1920 to 1980. However, after 1980 a reversal occurred and a gender gap in voting between men and women has been evident ever since. The range is from a low of 4 points in 1988, to a high of 10 percentage points in 1996.[1] In many countries across the world, women have shown the same pattern as women in the U.S. Recent studies have shown women throughout advanced industrial societies are voting as much as men and with the same voting behaviors as women in the U.S.[2]

A gender gap had existed in Europe before the 1990s where women were more likely to support conservative political parties. During the 1990s this gender gap had disappeared. It still exists in Eastern European countries.[3]

Recent history[edit]

In 1996 Bill Clinton obtained the votes of 11% more women than men: 54% of all women and 43% of all men. The only other president to get a higher women vote was Barack Obama with 56%.[4] This gap has serious significance. Bill Clinton won with 49.2% of the popular vote or 47 million votes. Fifty-four percent of all women voters voted for Bill Clinton. While men were split 43% Clinton, 44% Dole and 10% Perot. The Clinton – Dole divide was insignificant among men, only 1 percentage point. However among women that gap is 54% of women voting for Clinton to 38% of women voting for Dole. In terms of votes that is 11 million votes. Bill Clinton defeated Bob Dole with just over 8 million votes.[1][5][6]


In every presidential election year from 1980 - 2008 women have outnumbered men in voting Democratic and the same is true for men outnumbering women voting Republican.[1] From 1980 forward there is a definitive difference in partisanship between male and female voters.[7] The following data was gathered by the Center for American Women and Politics from 13 different sources ranging from October 1994 – September 1996. The various polls (Gallup, CBS, Times Mirror Center, Time, CNN) all found women and men to divided, ranging from 10-25 percentage points, on all of the following issues [8]

  • Increased role of government
  • U.S. military intervention
  • Healthcare and welfare
  • Firearms restrictions
  • Affirmative action to achieve racial equality

Elected women[edit]

Women have made strides in voting since 1920 to the point that they now vote more than men, and have also significantly increased the number of women in high political office. The disparity between men and women still exists. In 1984 Geraldine Ferraro ran for Vice-President with then Democratic Presidential candidate Walter Mondale. In 2008 Sarah Palin ran as the Vice-Presidential candidate with John McCain on the Republican ticket. In 2009, 78 of the 435 members of congress were women, 17 in the Senate and 73 in the House.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Center for American Women and Politics, Rutgers University, The Gender Gap, Voting Choices in Presidential Elections
  2. ^ The Developmental Theory of the Gender Gap: Women’s and Men’s Voting Behavior in Global Perspective, Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris
  3. ^ "The Developmental Theory of the Gender Gap: Women’s and Men’s Voting Behavior in Global Perspective". Center for Political Studies. Retrieved 2013-07-13. 
  4. ^ Center for American Women and Politics, Rutgers University, Women's Vote Watch
  5. ^ US Bureau, Voting and Registration in the Election of November 1996
  6. ^ "Presidential Election Exit Poll Results". CNN Time AllPolitics. Retrieved 2015-09-05. 
  7. ^ The Changing Politics of American Men: Understanding the Sources of the Gender Gap, by Karen M. Kaufmann and John R. Petrocik
  8. ^ Center for American Women and Politics, Rutgers University, The Gender Gap: Attitudes on Public Policy Issues
  9. ^ Center for American Women and Politics, Rutgers University, Women in Elective Office 2009: Fact Sheet

External links[edit]