Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Majority Minority

On Sunday I turned on the old boob tube and caught This Week with George Stephanopoulos. He had a segment with Marg Helgenbeger of CSI promoting Women's Voices, Women Vote a campaign to get more single women to vote. The segment stated that there are 20 million non-voting single women, the largest group of non-voters in America. Marg declared:

I think that women do not use nearly as much of their power as they're capable of, and for all different kinds of reasons. I think that women, especially if you have a career and children, I think so much of your time is just spent trying to find a balance between those two and prioritizing your life and that you, whatever your issues or your cause is, it kind of gets lost in the shuffle.
This left me with the impression that single women (and women in general) vote at a lower rate than men. Men don't have the issues that she raised, so they must vote at a higher rate. Why would you need a special campaign to try and get just single women to vote if they weren't voting at a lower rate?

But, I wasn't sure if this was correct. So, I decided to investigate.

I headed on over to US Census Bureau's Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2004 page and found this spreadsheet (.xls) of Reported Voting and Registration, by Marital Status, Age, and Sex.

Turns out that 59% of unmarried women vote vs. only 50% of unmarried men. While it is true that in total there are more unmarried women than men that don't vote, this is because there are 9 million more unmarried women than men. This difference is explained by the fact that women live longer and that there are 8.8 million more female than male widows.

Brief Aside: According to the statistics, there are also 1.3 million more married men than women (60.9 vs. 59.6 million) in the US. How is that even possible? Doesn't a marriage require one woman and one man? Has there been an outbreak of Russian mail order brides and other non-citizen marriages? Makes no sense to me at all.

Also, there are 900,000 more separated women than men. Once again I don't understand how that is possible. As far as I know each separation has both a man and a woman. But maybe that explains why there are more married men than women. The women think they are separated, but the men still think they are married.

If you take a look at all voters (married and non-married), men have a voting rate of 56.3% of men vote vs. 60.1% for women. Also, because they live longer, women outnumber men in the US 112 to 104 million (51.9% to 48.1%). In the last election there were 67.3 million votes cast by women and only 58.5 million by men. Women accounted for 53.4% of all voters while men accounted for only 46.6% of voters, a 6.8% difference.

This means that while women are often considered a minority, they have a greater population and vote at a higher percentage than men, so really politically speaking they are the majority. Women therefore are in charge of the country. If they voted in a block, they would determine the winner of every election.

Even though women are the political majority, women only make up 15.2% of the representatives in congress. David Broder reports that while women make up only 16% of all candidates running, this is
an all-time high and the ninth consecutive election cycle in which that proportion has increased.
While things are getting better, compared to the rest of the world, the US is trailing. The US ranks 68th in world in terms of women holding office in the legislature and is below the world average of 16.6%.

I could completely understand a campaign to try and get more women representatives, but that is not what Women's Voices, Women Vote is about as they do not endorse particular candidates.

Given that men are in the minority and we vote at a lower rate then women, it makes no sense to me that there is a campaign aimed just at getting single women to vote. What we really need is an ad campaign to encourage the under-represented men and single men in particular to vote more. Ironically, an ad campaign with attractive female Hollywood celebrities talking about their 'first time' is exactly what we need. Really, I don't see why you can't just lump both the female and male unmarried campaigns together. If you were to have a separate campaign for men, I think something should be done about the fact that men's life expectancy is 5 years less than women's and that 135 women graduate college for every 100 men.

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