August 26, 2004


Married? Single? Status affects how women vote (Susan Page, 8/25/04, USA TODAY)

[M]ost married women say they'll vote for President Bush. By nearly 2-to-1, unmarried women say they support John Kerry.

The "marriage gap" — the difference in the vote between married and unmarried women — is an astonishing 38 percentage points, according to aggregated USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Polls. In contrast, the famous "gender gap," the difference in the vote between men and women, is just 11 points. [...]

Why do married and unmarried women tend to see the political world so differently?

For one thing, conservative women are more likely to be married, though of course many liberal women are married, too. Democratic pollster Celinda Lake says unmarried women as a group start out as more liberal-leaning than married women. And they are often hard-pressed economically.

Most unmarried women — 54% — have annual household incomes below $30,000, according to the Census; that's twice the percentage of married women with incomes that low. Most married women — 51% — have household incomes of $50,000 and above; that's double the number of single women with income that high.

That makes single women more anxious than their married friends about bread-and-butter issues, less confident of having health coverage and more likely to take an expansive view of what the government can and should do to maintain safety-net programs.

Having children seems to intensify views on both sides. Married women with children are even more Republican that those who don't have children; single women who have children are even more Democratic than those who don't.

Today folks imagine that the main reason for the historic opposition to the aristocracy was nothing more than a matter of class hatred, but a classic definition (from John Adams) reveals that it was based on basic power politics: "By aristocracy, I understand all those men who can command, influence, or procure more than an average of votes...." One of the great defects of the welfare state is that the government itself wields inordinate influence over the votes of those who are dependent on it for their economic security. Combine this with the atomization of families and society in general, which increases the number of dependents and the level of their dependency, and you've a situation where a constitutional regime which originally intended to limit the concentration of power anywhere, but especially in the hands of the central State, has gradually seen the shift of more and more power precisely to that State. The final piece of this puzzle, of course, is that every expansion of the franchise has added more of the very people who are most likely to demand security and be prone to dependency. It's been a campaign of real genius: the statists have managed to create and purchase the loyalty of a vast pool of captive voters who can be counted on to support the State and oppose freedom.

There are a number of ways that conservatives (or originalists, if you will) are trying to combat this state of affairs--chiefly by the creation of an Ownership Society, which makes people dependent on themselves for welfare; and by restoring the primacy of family, civic groups, churches, and the other sinews of civil society. But one means that is too seldom considered is a re-restriction of the franchise, limiting it once again to those who are not likely to be dependent on the State. Barring a surge in gender-selection abortion it's out of the question to repeal the 19th Amendment entirely, but there's no reason the vote shouldn't be limited to those (women and men) who are married.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 26, 2004 12:09 PM

Mr. Judd,

I'm glad to have made a good suggestion.

Posted by: mc at August 26, 2004 12:23 PM

How does the dynamic of abortion interoperate with state power? The state has made abortion a right. But I see two contradictory arguments:

* Abortion makes poor unmarried women less dependent on the state for daycare & welfare benefits.

* Abortion lowers the price that women pay for remaining single. Restrictions on abortions make women more likely to marry, and therefore less likely to look to the state for assistance.

Which do you think is operative? The fact that heavily statist countries generally guarantee abortion access, I would say the second. Abortion lowers the incentive for women to marry. Although having a child makes a woman more dependent, a single, childless woman still has more need to depend on the government than a married woman with children.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at August 26, 2004 12:40 PM


Abortion alienates us from one another and devalues life, serving the State's purpose of completely atomizing humankind.

Posted by: oj at August 26, 2004 12:46 PM

Since a woman can obtain an abortion over the objection of the child's father, unrestricted abortion is one of the key reinforcements for limiting the role of fathers to resource providers. Thus it enables the government to supplant the role of fathers in the family.

Posted by: Chris B at August 26, 2004 1:19 PM

That argument's unstated underpinning is that aristocrats are competent to accomplish anything.

This remains to be shown.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at August 26, 2004 2:32 PM

One of OJ's theses is that women prefer security over freedom.

Married women have more security than single women, and are therefore more likely to vote for political freedom.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at August 26, 2004 8:15 PM

That remains to be shown, too.

Me, personally, I know more women, some of them at least formally married, who are living highly insecure lives than I do men who are.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at August 27, 2004 3:59 PM

Welfare reform passed, and GenX-ers are 20% more likely to contribute to 401(k) plans than Boomers are, thus lowering their dependence on State-sponsored pension plans.
If the Feds are aiming to make people more dependent on gov't largess, they're not doing so well.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at August 28, 2004 1:11 AM
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