Republicans misread their "gender gap" problem

The entire political world, more or less, assumes that to win more elections Republicans have to address the distinctive problem they have with women. That assumption is easy to make, but it’s wrong.

Women are slightly more liberal than men on issues of social welfare and war, and always have been. But gender influences voting much less than ideology, religiosity or marital status, as the survey itself confirms. And Republican candidates who win tend to have gender gaps about the same size as Republican candidates who lose. (George W. Bush did seven percentage points better among men than women in 2004, when he won, while John McCain’s gap was only five points in 2008, when he lost.)

Maybe, then, Republicans should stop obsessing so much about women as a group. In recent years, voters have thought Democrats had more to offer the middle class than Republicans did. If that changed, Republicans would find themselves doing better among both men and women. They’d almost certainly still have a gender gap, but they’d be more likely to win elections.

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