Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Marriage Gap

A friend sent along a link to this Jeff Jacoby column from the Boston Globe about women's voting patterns.

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.

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."
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.

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.

7 comments:

CincyDarwin said...

Interesting post, Darwin. Just as is pointed out in some of your other demographic posts, the same applies to this topic. When a party's main source of support is the non-reproducing sector, that party is in trouble. I've heard that much of the large dollar Democratic donors are in this sector. So the Dems are faced with staying with the money (and its liberal ideology) and constantly losing more voters, or shifting to where the voters are and risk alienating their money sources. Personally, I like seeing them in this dilemma! :-) The choices they've made in the last decade are leading them closer to a black hole.

A Philosopher said...

For what it's worth, Kerry had a majority of at least the following groups: women (51%), African-Americans (88%), Latinos (53%), Asian-Americans (56%), 18-29 year olds (54%), those with income under $50,000 (55%), those with income under $100,000 (just over 50%), union members (61%), those with no high school degree (just over 50%), those with postgraduate study (55%), Jews (74%), the non-religious (67%), non-Judeo-Christian religious (74%), and gays (77%).

Darwin said...

Fair enough. The study I was recalling was specifically on voting patterns by marriage/family status. By that breakdown, Kerry won unmarried women by a landslide (70%+ if I recall) and divorced women by a slight majority. Unmarried men, married men, married women and divorced men all went for Bush by varying margins. Then it started in on ethnic breakdowns, a number of which Kerry did win.

The study didn't have a category for "single sex partnership" but I bet Kerry carried that one by a landslide...

A Philosopher said...

I wasn't really trying to rebut anything you said; just providing some more details on the numbers. Those married with children went 59% for Bush. That group makes up 28% of the voting population. A random cute statistic: had Nader not run, 1% of Bush voters would have voted for Kerry, and 2% of Kerry voters would have voted for Bush. So much for Arrow's Theorem...

I admit I'm rather suspicious of the whole "genetics is destiny" line that so many conservatives are enamoured of of late. I rather doubt that the lining up of the liberal/conservative distinction with the non-child-bearing/child-bearing distinction is a new thing, but somehow conservatism hasn't ended up dominating the scene. Here's another way of looking at things. Historically, urban areas go liberal and rural areas go conservative. The increased urbanization over the last two hundred-odd years thus amounts to a general liberalizing trend. More recently, suburban areas provide a third alternative, and suburban areas tend to split pretty evenly between liberal and conservative. Both urban and rural seem to be losing out to suburban, although rural's losing faster. I suspect that surrounding cultural context is probably a better predicter of ideology than familial background, so I'd be more interested, were I really to care all that much in making the predictions, in how that demographic battle plays out.

Darwin said...

I think that's a point well worth while keeping in mind.

Certainly, a lot of things other than fertility come into play in determining the waxing and waning of different beliefs and ideologies.

My own theory would tend to be that certain elements of what is currently termed 'conservatism' actually do have biological or psychological bases in human nature, and so while they may wax and wane over time, they'll never go away. (I'd tend to put traditional marriage in that category.)

Other elements of conservatism (say, free trade) may tap into economic or political realities to one extent or another (something which can vary drastically by time and culture) and so are not necessarily more 'evolutionarily successful' than the opposing liberal beliefs.

Incidentally, are you the same 'a philosopher' I recall seeing on Mark Shea's blog from time to time? I seem to recall being impressed with a number of your comments on evolution...

A Philosopher said...

One and the same. Don't be too impressed, though - it's a context in which one can appear immensely sensible simply by asserting some rather obvious truths.

I'm sure you're right in distinguishing between deeply grounded and culturally grounded aspects of conservative ideology, and it shouldn't be too hard to come up with similar distinctions on the other side of the aisle. There's a long discussion to be had here about how normative we should take these deeply grounded ideological preferences to be, of course.

Darwin said...

it's a context in which one can appear immensely sensible simply by asserting some rather obvious truths.

Just so...