Gender Splits from the 2008 Democratic Contests

“Pre-Super Tuesday Edition.” For about the last 30 years, women have been more likely to identify themselves as “Democrat” than “Republican” and have in fact voted that way. After 9/11, however, there were a lot of small shifts in the electorate, and some previously Democratic clusters and psychographic groups leaned towards Bush (the so-called “Security Moms,” as an example.) This led to a closing of that gap in 2004, with Bush losing the female vote to Kerry by only three percentage points.

From the character of the primaries and caucuses to date, the gap is returning. The first clue, obviously, was the fact that our 2006 Exit Polls showed that Democrats won the female vote nationwide by 12 points. Now, in 2008, there is even more evidence that the gap is back. Much has been made of Senator Obama’s ability to pull younger voters and first-time voters, and Senator Clinton’s strength with women. The two clusters are not mutually exclusive, however–a lot of those first time, young voters are, in fact, women, and this has led to an incredible gender split in the contests so far. Here is a graph of the % of females participating in Republican and Democratic primaries (in states that have had both):


The difference between the female compositions of the Republican Primaries and Democratic Primaries in these six contests averages 13 percentage points. Certainly, with turnout figures like we have seen to date, men are also showing up in droves for the Democratic contests. The female turnout, however, is off the charts–and we can thank both Clinton AND Obama for this phenomenon.