Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Mark Twain and the Gender Gap

Today's NYT reports that the Kerry campaign is worried about losing support among women. The story however provides no evidence that the gender gap is closing. The only numbers cited show that Kerry is running worse among women than Gore did in 2000, but Kerry's also been running worse than men. In fact, there's no evidence that Kerry has lost any more support among women than among men. Bush, at least until recently, has been running better than Kerry, so that almost inevitably means that he'll be doing better among women as well as among men. But is there any evidence that Bush is closing up the gender gap? In fact, to paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the demise of the gender gap are greatly exagerated.

In 2000, exit polls showed that Democratic vote for women was 54-43 and for men it was 42-53. Calculating the gender gap as the women's Democratic vote minus the men's Democratic vote divided by two, that gives a gender gap of 11 points [((54-43)-(42-53))/2]=11

In the latest (early September) WaPo poll, the Democratic vote was 49-43 among women and 39-57 among men. That's a gender gap of 12 points--only a bit higher than in 2000. The latest ARG poll shows women voting Democratic 50-42 and men 42-51. That's a gender gap of 8.5 points, a bit lower than in 2000. Both polls suggest that the gender gap is running about where it was 4 years ago.

Furthermore, there's no evidence that Bush's recent surge came more from women than from men. The early August WaPo poll showed Kerry leading Bush 50-44. The early September poll had Bush up by the same 50-44 margin. That means Bush picked up a net of 12 points (he went from down 6 points to up by 6 points). In August, Kerry was running 56-39 among women and 44-50 among men. That means Bush picked up a net of 11 points among women (from down 17 to down 6) and a net of 12 among men (from up 6 to up 18). Thus, the Bush surge came equally from men and women.

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