A rare poll where the partisan gap is conspicuously less dramatic than the gender gap.
The only one of those splits I would have gambled on before seeing the numbers was that Democrats would be strongly supportive of drafting women. Republicans, I would have guessed, would tilt against the practice due to their stronger belief in traditional gender roles. And it’s true, they’re cooler to the idea than Democrats are — but only a little. You still have a plurality of GOPers in favor; in fact, when you dig into the crosstabs, you’ll find a plurality of conservatives in favor too (although just barely at 45/43). My best guess for the gender split would have been men narrowly divided — again, traditionalists versus non-traditionalists — with women fairly strongly in support on “we can do it!” equality grounds. Wrong on both counts. It’s men who strongly support drafting women while women are narrowly opposed. Either assumptions about traditionalism within each group are way off or the reasoning within each group has less to do with tradition than with a basic reluctance to go to war. Faced with a question about who should stand in front of the cannons, each sex points at the other and says, “Them.”
Another surprise: If traditionalism is the guiding light here, you’d expect to see opposition to drafting women rise as you move from younger to older age groups. Nope.
Grandpa’s contingent is actually the most likely, not the least, to send little Brianna up against ISIS. How come? My best half-assed guess is that Grandpa’s generation was the last one to actually experience the draft. I would have thought their experiences at war would make them comparatively more reluctant to see their granddaughters suffer through it but maybe, having lost friends in combat, they’ve concluded that the burden should be spread among the population as evenly as possible. Had women been drafted for Vietnam too, some of their buddies inevitably would have survived.
But wait, you say. Maybe what they have in mind is drafting women for non-combat roles, support staff for troops in the field. Good theory, but unsupported by the data here. YouGov asked about women in combat too and the numbers there were even rosier in favor.
This time you’ve got a clear majority of Republicans saying okay and a very near majority of conservatives. The age breakdown is a bit closer to what you’d expect this time, but only a bit: The numbers who “somewhat favor” or “strongly favor” women in combat is north of 60 percent among those aged 64 or younger whereas among senior citizens it’s 51 percent — still a majority. Grandpa’s ready to draft Brianna and to hand her a gun. Why is that? And why are the numbers so surprisingly strong among right-wingers? Is it because the GOP is more egalitarian on traditional gender issues than even some of its own fellow travelers believe, notwithstanding the right’s comparative social conservatism and identification of the military with masculinity? Or is this more of a “you wanted equality, you got it” thing aimed at feminists?
Exit question: The only three subgroups that don’t support drafting women are women themselves (as noted above); Hispanics, who split 40/44; and Republicans who preferred a candidate other than Trump in the primary, who are evenly divided at 47. Is there a common thread among those three? Traditional values probably goes a long way towards explaining opposition in the latter two groups.