Women are a valuable voter demographic that statistically shows up to the polls in greater numbers than men. But does that mean that U.S. women vote differently from their male counterparts? Take the Gender of Politics Quiz and find out.
In 1980, the United States voted Republican Ronald Reagan into the White House, but exit polling data showed a 7-point difference in the percentage of men and women who voted for him. Among male voters, Reagan garnered 54 percent of the vote, but got only 46 percent of the female vote. That was the first U.S. presidential election in which pollsters noticed a gender gap in voting.
In 2012, a Gallup poll found that the number of independent voters in the United States reached an all-time high, comprising 40 percent of the electorate. Men, however, were more likely to identify as independents, not wishing to align with a specific political party.
Women have a slight numbers advantage, since they make up a slight majority of the U.S. population, and a greater proportion of women also vote. From 1974 to 2004, for instance, 60.1 percent of the female electorate voted, compared to 56.3 percent of men, according to exit polling data collected by Rutgers Center for Women and Politics.
Although U.S. women in general tend to vote Democrat, three factors may make them more likely to swing conservative on an individual basis: older age, marriage and a rural zip code.
When it comes to hot-button "women's issues" like abortion, gender gaps often don't exist. Pew Research Center data from 2012 found that roughly equal percentages of men and women support and oppose abortion access.
Overall, women are more likely to support government-sponsored universal healthcare, as well as federal programs to assist the poor, elderly and children. Those kinds of issues trace back to Progressive Era "maternalist" social reform initiatives in the 1920s and 1930s that were championed by many women.
Based on the issues they prioritize and candidates they support, female voters are thought to view ideal government as being altruistic, whereas male voters prefer a more individualistic government. For that reason, more women side with Democrats, whereas men are more likely to vote Republican.
Although plenty of couples probably break this mold, on the whole, married folks often share political ideologies and parties. In fact, a study published in 2011 found that politics was a stronger correlate between long-term romantic couples than personality.
The ladies loved Obama in 2008, with 56 percent casting their vote for him. Clinton and Gore didn't perform too shabbily among women either, though: Each earned 54 percent of women's votes in 1996 and 2000, respectively.
With recession job losses still looming gloomily over the electorate, it isn't a huge surprise that a 2012 Gallup poll found unemployment ranking high on people's presidential priority lists. Not so important, comparatively? Abortion.