The real voting gap all about marriage

Published on Tuesday, 11 March 2014 20:32 - Written by

Ana Marie Cox, a liberal journalist who helped found the popular Wonkette political blog, is promulgating an even more popular (at least among the left) fiction: that Republicans are “at war” with women.

Writing for Britain’s The Guardian newspaper, she claims “The GOP doesn’t just have a woman problem, it doesn’t understand women.”

She covered the recent Conservative Political Action Conference and says the conference showed the “gender gap.”

“The leaders of the GOP just can’t comprehend that women’s circumstances — decades of discrimination against them — might mean that policies, or the lack of policies, which seem perfectly fair to ‘everyone else’ (white men, basically) have a different impact on them,” she wrote. “And the women at CPAC? They’re so invested in being ladies, they don’t even talk like women. They can’t admit that they’re denied anything, so they can’t ask anything.”

Let’s sum this argument up: Republicans men don’t understand women, because they don’t see how some “fair” policies discriminate against women. And Republican women don’t get women, either, because they’re too focused on being “ladies.”

Aside from being insulting to the conservative women at the conference, the claim is ludicrous on its face.

For the most part, Cox’s errors are mistakes in categorization. First, she confuses “conservative” with Republican. In American politics, the two are not always synonymous. CPAC is a gathering of conservatives, and their ire was aimed as much at the Republican leadership in Congress as at the Democrats.

Next, Cox confuses “women” with something quite different. She means, evidently, “women like me.”

“You know, ladies care about health care because we have babies! (Especially when we don’t have a choice),” Cox writes. “Women care about guns because how else will we defend ourselves! (I fear for the woman who told the audience that she sleeps with a ‘loaded gun next to my bed and I’ve never felt safer’).”

Cox dismisses concerns of women who don’t agree with her, and sees only those women who do agree with her as legitimate. The rest are — in her words — merely “ladies.”

Her real mistake, however, is also categorical. She sees policy differences as existing mostly between men and women — and she claims that Republicans side with men, while Democrats side with women.

It’s much more true to say that the real differences are between married people and single people. That’s what the polls actually show.

“The truth, though, is that other demographic characteristics have considerably more significance,” reports Kay Hymowitz in City Journal. “A widely reported example is marital status. Fifty-three percent of married female voters went for Romney. Among single women, by contrast, Romney was about as popular as an extra 20 pounds; a mere 31 percent supported him. The gap between married and single women, then, is wider than the male-female gap that the media have been touting.”

Sweeping generalizations are rarely useful in public policy discussions. When Democrats claim a Republican “war on women,” they start to sputter when faced with the real statistics.

Then they resort to calling GOP women “ladies.” As if that’s a bad thing.