Sunday, October 17, 2010

Women Connecting in Connecticut

In last Wednesday's New York Times, Raymond Hernandez noted a recent CNN poll (PDF) on the Connecticut Senate race between Republican Linda McMahon and Democrat Richard Blumenthal.  Hernandez notes the substantial gender gap in the race: there's a 13-point gap between the sexes in their evaluations of the candidates.  Blumenthal is basically tied among men (48 Blumenthal, 47 McMahon), while women overwhelmingly prefer him to McMahon (61-34).  Hernandez's explanation for this: "Many female voters are turned off by her campaign."  She is allegedly failing to "connect" with female voters due to her previous work with professional wrestling and her current tough campaign style.

You know what would have been helpful to mention in this article?  There's a substantial gender gap in virtually all partisan races, regardless of the sex of the candidates.  In fact, there was a 13-point gender gap (identical to the current one!) in Connecticut in the 2008 presidential race.  Indeed, we've had a measurable gender gap in presidential elections since the 60s -- one that seems unaffected by the presence of female vice presidential candidates on the ticket -- and it's been in the 10-point range since the 90s.

Now, one thing that's kind of interesting from 2008 is that the gender gap in Connecticut voting was higher than it was nationally.  Is the gap in the Blumenthal-McMahon race higher than in other races?  That would be useful to know.  But all the Times story provides us with is some sex-based rationalizations for how people probably would have voted anyway.

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