Of the last seven presidential elections, Republicans have won five -- three times with more women's votes than the Democrats. For all the rhetoric about the mighty gender gap -- Democratic strategist Ann Lewis once called it ''the Grand Canyon of American politics" -- Republicans seem to bridge it without difficulty.There's a similar pattern with men, though it isn't as distinct. Single and divorced men vote more Democratic than married men. And married couples with children vote more Republican than married couples without.
That's because women aren't monolithic voters, as O'Beirne emphasizes, and they don't march in lockstep to the beat of liberal drums. The best evidence of that is the electoral gap that really does matter in American politics -- the gap separating married women from those who are single.
Unlike the gender gap, there is nothing illusory about the marriage gap. Married women are more likely to vote Republican; unmarried women are more likely to vote Democratic. In the most recent presidential election, unmarried women voted for John Kerry by a 25-point margin, while President Bush won the votes of married women by an 11-point margin -- a marriage gap of 36 points.
''Want to know which candidate a woman is likely to support for president?" asked USA Today in 2004, as the Kerry-Bush race was heading into the home stretch. ''Look at her ring finger."
If I recall correctly, the only groups that Kerry actually carried a majority in nationwide were unmarried women and ethnic minorities. All other groups (married and unmarried men, married women) he lost, though he lost some worse than others.