Married v. unmarried could be the new election “gender gap”
Despite the American obsession with voting differences between men and women – the famed U.S. election “gender gap” – there is a far bigger “gap” dividing likely voters in 2012 – the yawning divide between marrieds and unmarrieds.
Fifty-seven percent of likely voters who are unmarried support Democratic President Barack Obama in the Nov. 6 general election, including those who have never been married, live with a partner or are widowed, divorced or separated.
Thirty-three percent of those unmarried likely voters back Republican challenger Mitt Romney, giving Obama a 24-point edge among the 910 respondents, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling data for the week ended Oct. 21.
Among married likely voters, Romney led by a 13 percentage point margin, 53 percent to 40 percent, in a sample of 1,322 respondents, for a yawning 37-point “marriage gap.”
“There is something that appears to be around the marriage factor alone,” said Ipsos pollster Julia Clark.
Analysts offer a variety of explanations for the “marriage gap.” One is that married people tend to be more religious, and religious people are more likely to vote Republican. Another is that Republicans are seen as promoting a more traditional image, with a “family” consisting of a husband and wife – who often stays at home with the children – and two or more children, which appeals more to married voters. Another is that married men and women, because they are in a more traditional type of relationship, are more likely to be conservative.
The marriage gap transcends gender, although women generally leaned more toward Obama. Married men backed Romney by 54-39 percent over Obama. Unmarried men backed Obama by 54-35 percent.
Women who have never been married, live with a partner or are divorced, separated or widowed backed the Democrat by 61-30 percent, and married women favored Romney by 51-41 percent over Obama, according to the data.
The gender gap for the same week? A mere 8 percentage points. Among all male likely voters, 46 percent backed Romney and 45 percent were for Obama, a one-point gap. Among all women, 49 percent favored Obama and 42 percent supported Romney, for a seven-point difference, and an 8-point gender gap.
The Reuters/Ipsos database is now public and searchable at this link.
Picture credits: Obama Reuters/Kevin Lamarque. Romney Reuters/Brian Snyder