The Feminist Factor: More than Half of 2012 Women Voters Identify As Feminists

A newly released voter poll finds that feminists, not just women in general, were key to the 2012 election results. Fully 55 percent of women voters self-identified as feminists–an increase of 9 percent since the last presidential election in 2008.

And if those polled were given a follow-up question that included a definition of feminism, the percentage of those declaring themselves feminists or strong feminists rose to a total of 68 percent!

Political pundits declared the day after the presidential election that women voters had decided the outcome in favor of reelecting Obama, but that was just part of the story. The polling, conducted by Lake Research Partners for Ms. magazine, the Feminist Majority Foundation and Communications Consortium Media Center (CCMC), documents the existence of a strong “Feminist Factor.”

We’ve long talked about the gender gap–the measurable difference between how men and women vote–but now, says Feminist Majority president and Ms. publisher Eleanor Smeal, “As we move forward after the elections of 2012, it’s time to acknowledge that it wasn’t just women who made a critical different in reelecting President Barack Obama, but feminists. It’s time to add another metric beyond the gender gap to our post-election analysis: the Feminist Factor.” We define that as the proportion of voters who self-identify as feminists across various demographics–race, age, religion, region of the country and more–and their subsequent voting behavior.

The following chart shows the result of our polling on feminist identification among women voters since 2006:

Furthermore, the Feminist Factor is especially strong among women in the emerging and expanding electorate of young women under 30 and among African-American women and Latinas:

For more on the Feminist Factor, read Eleanor Smeal’s lengthier article analyzing it in the current issue of Ms. magazine–available now digitally for your iPad, iPhone or Android devices! Sign up for the free app and receive subscription information. Join the Ms. community today and receive our 40th anniversary issue, our current issue and the next three issues of Ms.–five for the price of four!



The team is a collection of Ms. print and digital editors and writers.