Gender Gaps Abound in this Year's Presidential Campaign
The 2000 presidential campaign has so far revealed several gender gaps beyond the much-discussed tendency of women to support Democratic candidates and men to support Republicans.
One difference is that men and women have not been equally involved with the campaign. Twenty-six Shorenstein Center Polls conducted since mid-November show that women were less interested in the campaign than men. On average, men were more likely in the past day to have thought about the campaign (37% to 32%), to have talked about it (24% to 20%), or to have read or heard about it in the news (37% to 32%).
"The difference in the campaign involvement of men and women is not large but it is persistent," says Thomas Patterson, Bradlee Professor at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and co-director of the Vanishing Voter Project, of which the Shorenstein Center weekly surveys are a component. "Except for a few days surrounding the Super Tuesday primaries, men have been more engaged in the campaign than women."
Women are more likely than men to express dissatisfaction with politics and politicians. A survey conducted March 1-5 showed that more women feel that politics is "disgusting" (76% to 67%). Likewise, more women believe that most politicians are not worthy of respect (55% to 51%).
However, more women than men feel that this election is an important one. Shorenstein Center Polls conducted from mid-November to mid-March show that women are consistently more likely to believe that the election's outcome will make a great deal of difference in their lives (29% to 25%) and the country's future (35% to 32%).
"Men have demonstrated more interest in this campaign but only marginally. Women fully recognize the importance of the election, more so than men," says Marvin Kalb, co-director of the Vanishing Voter Project and the Executive Director of the Shorenstein Center's Washington Office.
But there are also areas where men and women have virtually the same opinions and perceptions. For example, one-fifth of men and women alike say that people like them have a great deal or quite a bit of influence on what the government does. As another example, a slight majority of both men and women agree that the current nominating system is fair to all candidates.
The results reported here are from twenty-six nationwide telephone surveys conducted from November 10, 1999 through March 26, 2000 of approximately 1,000 adults each. The Vanishing Voter Project is a study by the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Funding for the project is provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The project is co-directed by Thomas E. Patterson, Bradlee Professor of Government & the Press at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard, and by Marvin Kalb, Executive Director of the Shorenstein Center's office in Washington.
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