By Linda Chavez
SAN DIEGO – Here’s a political quiz: Which political party has suffered from a “gender gap” in voting during the last several presidential elections?
If you answered “the Republicans,” you get an “A” for reading the newspapers and watching the evening news – but you flunk the test.
In fact, in three out of the last four elections, it has been the Democrats who have actually been hurt by the gender gap.
Democrats lost those elections because they did so poorly among male voters. In 1984, Democrat Walter Mondale trailed Republican President Ronald Reagan by 25% among men. And in 1988, Democrat Michael Dukakis got 16% fewer male votes than Republican George Bush. Their losses had little to do with female voters.
But the media have been relatively uninterested over the years in why men are less likely to vote Democratic, while they’ve been obsessed with the supposed GOP gender gap among women.
This year is no different. Expect to read countless stories and hear endless explanations this election season why Bob Dole can’t win women’s votes. And most of it will be hogwash – or wishful thinking on the part of reporters and pundits, most of whom will probably be voting Democratic themselves in November. (In 1992, 89% of Washington-based reporters and editors voted for Bill Clinton, according to a poll by the Freedom Forum, a media think tank.)
One of the favorite explanations of why women won’t vote Republican this year is the party’s position on abortion. The Republican Party’s pro-life stance is supposed to be a huge barrier to winning women’s votes. But, in fact, polls show that abortion has little to do with how women cast their votes.
A recent USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll showed only 1 in 5 female voters say the candidate they support must share exactly their own position on abortion. And of these women, more than half are pro-life.
But don’t expect the media to remind voters of these facts between now and Election Day. They’ll be too busy reporting the so-called GOP gender gap.
Linda Chavez is the former Director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; Republican nominee for U.S. Senate from Maryland in 1986; and author of Out of the Barrio.