A story reported ad nauseam this and every other election cycle is the fact that The Democrats poll better among women than Republicans. The current Gallup poll has Mr. Obama ahead among women by 8%. Even if you have been a regular consumer of news you may not know that this same poll has Romney ahead by 8% among men. You probably do not know that the vote preference given by men has proven recently to be a better indicator of the overall winner of a presidential election than the advantage among women. Why don’t we see a headline across newspapers or broadcasts asking the question…“What does Obama have to do to get the man vote?”
Exit polling has been in place since the 1972 election for President, and this has included separating the participants by gender. For most elections, women and men vote in majorities for the winner. Recently, however other trends have developed. Women have voted for the Democrat running for president since 1992. These votes have twice led to women voting for the loser in the presidential race. If Mitt Romney loses women in this year’s election, it will just be the continuation of the 20 year trend of women voting for Democrats. Men on the other hand have voted for the winner all but once in this same period of time. That winner (Bill Clinton 1996) only lost the man vote by 1% (http://elections.nytimes.com/2008/results/president/national-exit-polls.html). Men seem to be up for grabs in each election, whereas women lately have consistently given the edge to Democrats.
If you were a promising young reporter, or even a grizzled veteran, isn’t this a better story? Don’t these facts point to the man vote being a better indicator of the winner? Are the current reports just media bias, since it makes the republican look bad? Maybe they report this women gender gap so they can bring up abortion. Many think that this is the reason for women leaning toward democrats, and it is controversial. The media certainly loves to report on controversy. When you see a gender gap story chiding the Romney campaign for their lack of support with women, occasionally they will also show the poll for men. This is the part of the story that won’t be addressed by the reporter, but can actually give you useful information as we get closer to election day. If history is our guide, this gender gap will tell you who will be the next president.
I don’t know any presidential campaign that would be stupid enough to rule out roughly 50% of voters when crafting its message. It is interesting, however, that when the media chooses to break down the electorate, they choose the wrong gender to focus on for the possible victor. The media is fixated on the fact that women are showing a preference for President Obama by 8%, while they ignore the same preference number for Romney by men. Perhaps a rebel will have a story saying that no one has ever won the presidency while losing the man vote by more than 1%. If it ever happens, they may be on to something.
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