Why is Paul so unpopular among women? Setting aside what women think about Paul’s personal qualities, which would require pure speculation, consider what sets him apart from all the other candidates vying for the GOP nomination: his highly distinct political philosophy. While not a doctrinaire libertarian, Paul is by far the most libertarian-leaning candidate in the race. And there’s plenty of evidence that the libertarian worldview leaves most women cold, despite the fact that female intellectuals—Ayn Rand, most famously—have been pivotal in creating libertarianism.
The demographic profile of libertarians is sharply defined. According to 2013 Pew survey, 7 percent of Americans identify as libertarian. Of those, two-thirds are men (68 percent) and nearly all are non-Hispanic whites (94 percent). That is, the typical libertarian is a white man. These firm demographic contours cry out for an explanation since, at first glance, there doesn’t seem much intrinsically white or male about libertarianism. Proclaiming itself a philosophy of individualism, with no overt celebrations of either patriarchy or racism, libertarianism still ends up being monochromatic and male.
Cathy Young, a libertarian journalist and author of the 1999 book Ceasefire!: Why Women and Men Must Join Forces to Achieve True Equality, notes that “if you look at polls that actually ask people about the role of government, the people at the far end of the libertarian scale are definitely more likely to be male, maybe by a 2:1 margin. Why? I think that for a variety of reasons (whether innately psychological, culturally driven, or shaped by life experience), women are less likely to be drawn to political philosophies that emphasize self-reliance and risk. Women are also more likely to rely on government services, both as clients and as employees.”