Four Key Facts About Women Voters

With the 2018 election now in full swing, the Ms. Blog is excited to bring you content presented in conjunction with Gender Watch 2018, a project of the Barbara Lee Family Foundation and the Center for American Women and Politics. They’ll be tracking, analyzing and illuminating gender dynamics during election season—so check back with us regularly!


After the conclusion of the Senate Confirmation Hearings, which featured powerful testimony from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, 70 percent of Republican women continued to support his confirmation. This show of support came as a surprise to many people who expected Ford’s accusations of sexual assault to further polarize women voters—consistent with speculation that we will see a historic gender gap in the impending 2018 midterms.

We’ve been studying the gender gap in American politics for 10 years, and our research suggests that Republican women’s continued support for Kavanaugh, and continued enthusiasm for the party generally, should come as no surprise. There is a tendency to associate women with the Democratic party, but liberalism isn’t the full story when it comes to women voters. In this era of heightened party polarization—where party identities are so strong and so distinct from one another —party loyalties play an outsized role in determining who people vote for on election day, for both men and women.

Democratic women are loyal to Democratic candidates. Republican women are loyal to Republican candidates. This is true even in situations where these party loyalties might be challenged, like races where gender issues are at the forefront because of sexual misconduct or because women are running in historic candidacies.

This isn’t the story the media is telling. Instead, they’ve suggested that the gender gap is becoming a gender chasm. 

Women prefer Democratic candidates by a record margin. Women are abandoning the Republican Party. GOP women are growing dissatisfied with their party. And GOP women are less motivated about voting. Some Democrats are likely feeling pretty optimistic about this news, but this optimism is often misplaced. Just because there are more women candidates running than ever before and gender has emerged as a common theme in the 2018 midterms doesn’t mean that women are becoming more politically united.

Here are four things that you need to know to truly understand the gender gap.

Many women voters and candidates are motivated by the sexism they see in Washington—but Republican women remain loyal to their party, and an upset due to the gender gap isn’t necessarily a certainty looking ahead to the midterm elections. (Charles Edward Miller / Creative Commons)

#1: Party identification trumps gender when it comes to voting.

Party identification is the most important factor for determining voting patterns. Both women and men rarely cross party lines to vote for opposition candidates. Yes, our research shows there has been a persistent and growing gender gap between the parties since the 1970s, with women more likely to identify as Democrats and men as Republicans. But once men and women choose to identify with a party, they stay pretty loyal to that party’s candidates.

There was a lot of speculation that 2016 would be an exception to this rule and that Republican women would vote for Hillary Clinton because of Donald Trump’s “woman problem.” But women largely remained loyal to their party. Exit polls show that 89 percent of Republican women voted for Trump. Similarly, 90 percent of Democratic women voted for Clinton.

Reporters are suggesting that Republican women may abandon their party in 2018. Consistent with past results, an October 2nd poll that found 55 percent of women said they would vote for a Democratic candidate for Congress compared to 43 percent of men, if the midterm elections were held today.

But this comparison isn’t very useful, because it doesn’t account for party affiliation.

If you use this same poll, but compare men and women from the same party, a different picture emerges. Ninety-three percent of Republican women and 91 percent of Republican men reported that they would vote for a Republican candidate for Congress if the election were held today. Just like in 2016, registered Republicans, whether male or female, plan to turn out for Republican candidates.

#2: Party isn’t the only factor that divides women.

In addition to party, race, education, and class create sharp divisions among women. African-American women, Latinas, and college-educated women overwhelmingly support Democratic candidates. By contrast, a majority of white women typically vote Republican. In 2016, for example, 90 percent of women who voted for Trump were white. But, as our research shows, there are divisions among white women too. White women with a college degree were about twice as likely to support Clinton over Trump in 2016. On the other hand, low-income white women were much more supportive of Trump than middle- and upper-income women.

For the most part, these patterns are nothing new – they reflect long-standing trends in American political behavior. White women have long supported Republican presidential candidates, with the notable exception of Bill Clinton’s presidential bids in 1992 and 1996. The education gap among white women opened up in the 1990s, when a majority of college-educated white women started to support Democratic candidates. Taking race, education, and class into account like this quickly clears up the picture of the gender gap.

#3: Women won’t automatically vote for a candidate just because she is also a woman.

A big part of the story about gender in the 2018 midterms is that there are more women running for office than ever before. Most of these female candidates are Democrats, and there is little to suggest that Republican women will cross party lines to vote for a female Democratic candidate. It’s not just a matter of party, but also a matter of policy.

In our research, we analyzed opinion in 10 different policy areas, and found that Republican women hold attitudes that are much more similar to Republican men than to Democrats of either gender. While Republican women have slightly more moderate views than Republican men on “women’s issues”—including education, child care and healthcare—the gaps between parties are much bigger than differences between men and women within either party. Because Republican women have such conservative policy preferences, the spate of new female Democratic candidates is not likely to appeal to them.

Beyond this, many Republican women are perfectly happy being represented by men. In a poll conducted by CBS news, only 19 percent of Republican women think it is very important to elect more women or even that more women in political office would make the country better.

#4: The gender gap doesn’t automatically benefit Democrats. Turnout matters.

On average, women are more supportive of the Democratic party. Women are also more likely to turn out to vote compared to men. While this seems like it might automatically translate into a Democratic Party advantage, this isn’t necessarily the case. In 2016, white women turned out at higher than average rates, and the majority of them voted for Donald Trump. In the 2017 Special Election for Alabama Senate, African- American women turned out at unusually high rates, solidifying a victory for Democrat Doug Jones over Republican candidate Roy Moore.

What can we expect in terms of turnout in the 2018 midterms? Although a July 2nd poll of registered voters found that Democratic women were 10 percentage points more likely than Republican women to say the November elections are “very important,” this enthusiasm gap has disappeared in the wake of the Kavanaugh hearings. An October 1st poll of registered voters showed that 79 percent of Democratic women and 83 percent of Republican women now believe that the upcoming midterm is “very important”—a statistical tie.

Ultimately, women are not a unified group politically, and we should be skeptical of reporting on the gender gap that suggests they are. Partisanship plays a powerful role in shaping women’s voting behavior—and any one particular event or candidate is unlikely to override the power of party loyalty and create a major electoral upheaval.

Erin C. Cassese is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Delaware and an expert contributor at Gender Watch 2018.

Tiffany D. Barnes is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Kentucky.

Heather L. Ondercin is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Wichita State University.

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Say What Now? Four Men Killed, One Injured at Texas Toddler’s Birthday Party [Video]

Four men were found dead and one injured in after a fight between families erupted at a 1-year-old’s birthday party in Texas on Saturday.

via NYDN:

Sgt. Nathan Brandley of the Texas Department of Public Safety said the men were killed at a party in Taft, Texas, after an altercation escalated.

The injured man was airlifted to a hospital in Corpus Christi, where his condition remains unknown. Taft, a small town of about 3,000, is seated about 12 miles north of Corpus Christi.

Brandley said police are on the hunt for two suspects believed to be connected to the shooting.

Senseless.

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Say What Now? Mother Among Four Arrested for Trying to Sell Babies on Instagram

Indonesian authorities busted a child trafficking operation that involved buying and selling babies on Instagram.

via CNN:

Four people were arrested, including a 22-year-old mother and 29-year-old suspected broker in Indonesia’s second largest city Surabaya, police said in a press conference Sunday.

A midwife and a suspected buyer were also arrested on the resort island of Bali.

Authorities were alerted to an account on the popular photo-sharing site with the handle “Konsultasi Hati Privat,” or Private Heart Consultation, that presents itself as offering pregnancy consultations and adoption services.

However, police said they have found evidence that monetary transactions were being carried out.

The head of criminal investigation unit in Surabaya’s police force , AKBP Sudamiran, said Tuesday that his team foiled an attempt by a 22-year-old mother, identified as LA, to sell her 11-month-old baby to a buyer in Bali, known as NS, using the messaging service WhatsApp. The baby was allegedly being offered for 15 million rupiah (about $ 987).

The Instagram account was still active early Friday and had more than 700 followers, having been running for about a year. It has since been taken down.

Images featured on the page included black and white photos of ultrasounds, pregnant mothers and babies with their faces blurred.

In one image posted on September 15, a baby, referred to as C86, was featured alongside information such as age, gender and religion. A contact number is provided with a message urging those who want to adopt or who want to leave a child for adoption to get in touch.

The account also featured screenshots from WhatsApp conversations between the account owner and pregnant women or mothers. In one conversation, a woman who is seven months pregnant says she is unmarried and wants to find someone to adopt her child and to hide her until she gives birth so that her family doesn’t find out.

The head of Indonesia’s National Commission for Child Protection (KPAI), Sustano, who like many Indonesians has one name, said social media has changed the way traffickers conduct business.

“In the old days, the transaction happened in person and it was usually arranged through a middleman,” he said. “But now, they are using new and more advance methods, through social media like Instagram and Facebook. The cyber world has become a tool for promotion and transaction.”

Sustano says traffickers are drawn to social media because “it is considered more effective, the deal happens directly between seller and buyer, and it is not easy to be detected by law enforcement.

“If the use of Instagram is proven in this case then it shows how traffickers constantly adapt to new methods for their trade,” added Amanda Bissex, Chief of Child Protection at UNICEF. She believes it’s now important that authorities “adapt their policy and legislative response to prevent such crimes, particularly against children, young girls and women.”

Indonesia is a major source, transit, and destination country for human trafficking. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that 100,000 children are trafficked each year in Indonesia, with the majority being forced into the sex trade.

In its 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report, the US government rated Indonesia as Tier 2, saying that the country “did not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.” Indonesia was however, “making significant efforts to do so.”

All four of the arrested individuals face up to 15 years in prison for violating child protection laws.

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Four Arrested In Connection With L.A. Celebrity Burglaries

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Four people have been arrested in connection with a series of burglaries that targeted the homes of celebrities, including Rihanna, Christina Milian, Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig and Rams wide receiver Robert Woods, police said Tuesday.

The suspects were believed to be part of a larger burglary ring targeting actors, athletes and Hollywood producers, police said at a news conference. Police displayed seized items believed to have been stolen — including expensive purses, handbags, watches and jewelry — in the hopes that the victims could identify them.

Police last weekend also seized $ 50,000 in cash.

The ring may have been responsible for about two dozen burglaries and taken property worth millions of dollars, said Lillian Carranza, commanding officer of the LAPD’s Commercial Crimes Division.

More arrests were expected, she said.

The victims were chosen based on social media postings and tour and travel schedules that indicated they would be away from home, Carranza said.

Woods, for example, had his Woodland Hills home hit on Thursday while he was playing against the Minnesota Vikings at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Rihanna, Milian and Puig also had their homes burgled in recent months, Carranza said.

Mugshots: LAPD

In the home of one suspect, police seized a list containing a dozen other targets, including LeBron James and actors Viola Davis and Matt Damon, along with their addresses, Carranza said.

The thieves, believed to be gang members and their associates, called their operation “flocking” because “they flocked like birds to areas where the rich and famous were sited,” Carranza said.

The crooks would wear button-down shirts and drive luxury cars to fit in as they scouted the neighborhood and then changed into casual clothing, including hoodies, before hitting homes, Carranza said.

After knocking on the door to make sure nobody was home, the thieves would break in through a door or window and clean out the master bedroom, stealing cash, weapons, watches and other items in a matter of minutes — often before the alarm company could notify police, Carranza said.

On Friday, police stopped a car in South Los Angeles for a reason unrelated to the burglaries and found a handgun and stolen items in it, Carranza said.

Tyress Williams and Jshawne Daniels, both 19, and Damaji Hall, 18, were arrested. Hall’s mother, 34-year-old Ashle Hall, was arrested on Sunday, Carranza said.

All remained jailed Tuesday. It wasn’t immediately clear whether they had attorneys.

There has been a rash of celebrity home burglaries in Los Angeles and nearby areas in the past two years.

In 2017, singer Alanis Morissette had about $ 2 million in jewelry and valuables stolen from her Brentwood mansion. The NBA’s Nick Young lost about $ 500,000 in jewelry and other items during a burglary at his Tarzana home.

 


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