Why men vote for Republicans and women vote for Democrats

With the nomination of Reagan for president in 1980, the Republican Party moved sharply to the right on a handful of issues relevant to women. The party dropped its support of the Equal Rights Amendment, embraced an anti-abortion position, and courted conservative Christians who lamented the effect of working women on “traditional” families. Although Reagan handily won election, he lost women by eight points. “It wasn’t until Reagan that Republicans clearly showed women that there are sides,” Kathleen Dolan, a political-science professor at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, told The Washington Post.

The unprecedented split between male and female voters in 1980 caused a media frenzy. The National Organization for Women headlined its newspaper’s following issue “Women Vote Differently Than Men: Feminist Bloc Emerges in 1980 Elections,” and the first mention of a “gender gap” in mainstream media appeared in The Washington Post in 1981…

Perhaps because the Democratic Party has become reliant on winning female votes, its policies are attuned to women’s priorities. Women are more likely to live below the poverty threshold and rely on food stamps and other welfare services—part of a global phenomenon known as “the feminization of poverty.” This fact may make them more receptive to Democrats’ relatively consistent promises to expand the welfare state. As the Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell writes, women are also more likely to work or be employed in government and government-regulated sectors, such as education and health care. It stands to reason that these employment trends make women less likely to vote for a Republican Party that has, for four decades, consistently promised to slash taxes and shrink government.