The Female Edge

The Female Edge

Republicans beware: The women are coming.

Turnout advantage/disadvantage for women since 1964. Red color shows an edge for women, blue an edge for men.

Turnout advantage/disadvantage for women since 1964. Red color shows an edge for women, blue an edge for men.

Given that women vote overwhelmingly democrat, trends in turnout among the genders have serious implications for the  balance of power between the parties.

Data analysis shows that women have gone from a 4 point turnout deficit in the 1964 presidential election to a 4 point advantage in 2012. This advantage shift is even more dramatic if you look at it as a relative difference between the genders — in that case, women started with a 6.82% deficit and now enjoy a 7.54% advantage — roughly a 14 point swing.

To quantify this advantage, a “female edge” figure has been computed. To do so, the turnout rate for women for each election is taken and divided by the turnout rate for men. This gives a relative difference between the genders, rather than what would be arrived at if one simply subtracted the male turnout percentage from the female turnout percentage.

Over time, a clear and distinct trend is visible, showing that women are now going to the polls at a higher rate for men, and that this trend is on a very consistent upward climb. As the years pass, women are coming to dominate turnout figures.

Pundits often discuss the threat posed to the Republican party by increasing numbers of Hispanic voters. This may be a very real danger, but it isn’t the only one the Republicans face. If they continue to lag heavily behind the Democratic party in popularity with women, the female edge means Republicans face an ever-more-difficult path to electoral victory, particularly in national elections.

Using the tool, more information can be examined. For instance, these trends become markedly worse if you break things down by age. The only group where men have a higher turnout rate than women is in the 65-and-over crowd. Given that this group is aging, and dying, and given that the female edge is even greater among the other age brackets, it’s difficult to view these numbers as anything other than great news for Democrats, and a looming danger for the GOP.


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