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Will Women Save The United States? A Look At The Gender Gap In 2012

October 30, 2012

The existence of the “gender gap”, the proportional difference between how men and women vote, may not be new , but the gathering of hard data via exit polling has only existed from 1972.  According to this NY Times article, the gender gap was minimal in 1972 and 1976, but jumped to 17 points in 1980 when men contributed disproportionately to Ronald Reagan’s victory over the incumbent Democratic President, Jimmy Carter.  This is of interest not only because the 2012 campaign has often been compared to the campaign of 1976, but also because it would thus seem germane to review the legacies of each man.

The results of a survey which included both liberal and conservative respondents provides some important information.  According to the published results and via this website:

Ronald Reagan was named as the most “Underrated” president, as well as the second most “Overrated” president, suggesting the lack of academic consensus about Reagan’s legacy.

Perhaps more importantly Jimmy Carter was ranked “among the ten worst U.S. presidents“, while Ronald Reagan was ranked as the 8th best President and labeled as “near great“.  This from a survey conducted in 2000/2001 which is before those on the left grudgingly changed their main narrative which had been designed to negate much of what Ronald Reagan accomplished.  The revision is ongoing, in favor of President Reagan, and he is no longer seen as the far-right demagogue of yesteryear but rather, as President Obama said just this past April:

So this president gave another speech where he said it was “crazy” – that’s a quote – “that certain tax loopholes make it possible for multi-millionaires to pay nothing while a bus driver was paying 10% of his salary.”
That wild-eyed socialist, tax-hiking, class warrior was Ronald Reagan.
(For video and further information as reported by Fox News, go here)
It’s true that President Obama completely mischaracterized President Reagan’s intent and meaning, but that doesn’t change the fact that he attempted to use him as a latter day Lincoln, a Republican President somehow becoming a staunch supporter of the many platforms of the Democratic Party.
Various theories have been offered in an attempt to explain the gender gap in voting patterns which was evident in 1976.  One article which provides a concise history of women voting, along with an analysis which suggests that the very premise of a significant gender gap in voting patterns is fundamentally flawed can be found here.
In any event, by the time 1980 rolled around, Ronald Reagan was the favorite of voters from both genders.  This in the face of the Democratic Party’s obvious attempt to pander to the woman vote by nominating Geraldine Ferraro as their Vice-Presidential candidate along with the confirmed liberal Walter Mondale at the top of their ticket.  This weak-kneed and ideologically pure team did not compare well to Ronald Reagan and his “Morning in America” campaign and predictably lost in a defeat of historical proportions.
The question women have to ask themselves is why this election is any different?  In 1979, three years into his failed Presidency, Jimmy Carter was presiding over an economy in shambles and numerous foreign debacles due, in no small part, to his philosophy of leading through weakness.  This liberal meme, which is also evident as a cornerstone of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy was soon to be terminally, or so we thought, discredited by the Iranian hostage crisis which began in November of that same year.
In July, 1979, and thus prior to the Iranian debacle, President Carter appeared on TV and gave what was later to become known as his “Malaise” speech.
Much like the present occupant of the office he attempted to appeal to the very values of the American populace that he had so often denigrated while then incredibly proceeding to  suggest that the “crisis in confidence” was a result of abandoning those same values.    The majority of Americans apparently agreed with him and at the first opportunity sent him packing.  The Iranians, of course, quickly saw the writing on the wall and released the hostages for reasons still being debated.
There are differing theories as to why women tend to lean Democratic and obviously no single motive can be attributed to every woman, but it would seem to me that it goes without saying that the real divide depends on how they see men.    This understanding allows one to embrace all the various theories and combine them into one simple theme.
On the one side, generally on the left, we have those who suggest that every women’s first priority is the right to have an abortion. This is evidenced, according to the NY Times  by the fact that the gender gap only became a significant factor after the Roe v Wade decision in 1973.  According to the same article, which is linked above, this premise is further supported by the fact that women continue to favor the Democratic Party, to a greater or lessor degree, even in the absence of “pocketbook” issues.  Even during relatively good economic times, “women also take more liberal stances than men on social issues like same-sex marriage and gun control.”
This first article of a planned series has barely scratched the surface of how and why the voting patterns of men and women may be different, but I must mention that a somewhat alternative view  is posited by Daniel Wirls’  when he suggests that women are not the overt instigators, but rather it is the ongoing flight of men from the Democratic to the Republican Party which has exacerbated the gender gap.
Having started this journey, it would seem an explanation is in order for why an article purportedly examining the gender gap focused so much time on Reagan/Carter.  Time is short, and with time constraints what they are, it would seem that the shortest way to asking women to consider voting for Romney is to provide evidence from the not too distant past that women fared well, as did the country, when Reagan was elected over their objections.  This is not an attempt to point fingers but rather to suggest that in this election it is becoming increasingly apparent that women have the power to either elect Reagan/Romney or Carter/Obama.  It is an extremely important decision with wide ranging implication both here and abroad.
Back in April and before Romney was the official Republican Candidate, former President Carter was interviewed on MSNBC’s “Jansing & Co”:

When pressed on whether he would be “comfortable” with a Romney presidency, Carter responded, “I would rather have a Democrat, but I would be comfortable.” 

“I think Romney has shown in his past, in his previous years as a moderate, a progressive that he was fairly competent as a governor and also running the Olympics. As you know, he has a good solid family,” Carter said.

Thank you for your support….Part II in progress.

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