Women’s Vote Crucial in Election


Let’s face it: Women voters swung the election for Barack Obama yesterday.

CNN exit polls show that 55 percent of women voted for Obama, 44 percent for Romney. Meanwhile, men voted 52 to 45 for Romney. On top of those figures, it was estimated before the election that 10 million more women than men would be voting, since they both register and vote in higher percentages than men.

As the Huffington Post pointed out, women’s support for Obama in the swing states cancelled out Romney’s advantage with men and independents:

While Obama lost by 10 percentage points among independents in Ohio, he won by 12 points among women in the state. In New Hampshire, women voted for Obama over Romney by a margin of 58 to 42 percent, while men preferred Romney by a narrow 4-point gap.

Since Obama’s win came with 55 percent of the women’s vote and 45 percent of the men’s, that means the gender gap was 10 percent–the second largest in presidential voting recorded by exit polls, according to the Center for American Women and Politics. The largest was 11 percent in 1996 for Bill Clinton. If only men had voted, Mitt Romney would have won.

Large gender gaps also determined the outcome of many Senate races and enabled a Democratic majority in the Senate. Key Senate races where the gender gap made an impact are:


    • Chris Murphy (D-CT) defeated Linda McMahon (R) despite her spending tens of million of dollars. There was an 11 percent gender gap (Murphy received 60 percent of women’s votes, 49 percent of men’s).


    • Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) won with a 12 percent gender gap (59 percent of women’s votes, 47 percent of men’s).


    • Martin Heinrich (D-NM) won with a 6 percent gender gap (54 percent of women’s votes, 48 percent of men’s).


    • Sherrod Brown (D-OH) won with an 8 percent gender gap (56 percent of women’s votes, 48 percent of men’s).


    • Bob Casey (D-PA) won with a 9 percent gender gap (58 percent of women’s votes, 49 percent of men’s)


    • Tim Kaine (D-VA) won with a 7 percent gender gap (56 percent of women’s votes, 49 percent of men’s).

If only men had voted in each of these Senate races, the Republican candidate would have won–and the Senate majority would be Republican.

Concludes Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority, about these results:

The problem Republicans have with women is deep and costly. The attacks on women’s rights through restricting access to abortion and birth control, opposing equal pay legislation, advocating for privatization of Medicare and slashing Medicaid funding, plus the demeaning of women by ignorant and offensive comments regarding rape and the attempt to weaken the Violence Against Women Act, all add up to a widely perceived Republican War on Women.

Image from Flickr user Mykl Roventine under license from Creative Commons 2.0


Michele Kort is senior editor of Ms. She is the author of Soul Picnic: The Music and Passion of Laura Nyro and coeditor (with Audrey Bilger) of Here Come the Brides: Reflections on Lesbian Love and Marriage.