In an earlier post, I discussed the serious problem that the GOP has with single women who voted by a whopping 67-31% for Obama. Mitt Romney’s suggestion that this was because of president Obama’s ‘gift’ of ‘free’ contraceptives was widely ridiculed but this idea that all single women care about is contraception and abortion is quite widespread.
But Melissa Dickman has looked at the exit polling data and finds that focusing on unmarried women is misleading. Irrespective of your gender, whether you are married or unmarried seemed to be an important factor in the last election.
First, unmarried voters’ personal perceptions of the candidates differed dramatically from those of married voters, in ways that clearly benefited Obama. Figure 1 shows wide gaps in the leadership qualities that married and unmarried voters ascribed to the presidential candidates. Unmarried voters were significantly more likely to believe Obama better exemplified important leadership traits than Romney. They were more likely to see Obama as “honest and trustworthy”, and as a “strong and decisive leader”, than Romney. Given that the centerpiece of Romney’s campaign revolved around his business experience and plan to grow America’s economy, especially damaging to Romney was the perception among unmarried voters that Obama was far more likely (59 to 37 percent) to have a plan to get the economy moving than Romney.
Given the steady decline in marriage and the rise in numbers of people who have never married, this is a demographic that both parties need to be concerned about.