When the scientists analyzed the testosterone in the saliva generated by all that gum chewing, they noted a dramatic pattern: men who had voted for the losing presidential candidate, John McCain, suffered a big drop in their testosterone after hearing of his defeat.
The scientists reported that the male McCain voters “felt significantly more controlled, submissive, unhappy and unpleasant.” The testosterone effect was “as if they directly engaged head-to-head in a contest for dominance” and lost, one researcher told a reporter when the study was published in 2009. The men who voted for Obama fared better. The researchers speculated that there might be an Obama baby boom.
Politicians mining the gender gap should pay close attention to the study. Women had no change in testosterone levels, regardless of whom they voted for. Estrogen was not measured in the study. And women return to the polls more frequently than men. (Indeed, female turnout has exceeded men’s in every presidential election since 1980.)
Is it possible voting makes male voters too vulnerable? Could the unpleasant feelings male voters experience when their candidates lose discourage them from revisiting the polls? No wonder they stop voting. It hurts too much.