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The Gender Gap in Voting

Voters Cast Ballots In The Iowa Primary Election

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

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In every U.S. presidential election since 1964, more women than men have turned out to vote. And since 1980, the two genders have differed markedly in their preferences at the ballot box, with women tending to choose candidates from the Democratic Party more than men do. Though this gender gap in voting is not just in the U.S. — women around the world have become more likely to vote for candidates on the left, particularly in western Europe and Canada — it’s become a defining feature of American politics and more pronounced under President Donald Trump. Why have women and men diverged, and what does it mean for elections to come?

In his surprise 2016 victory over Hillary Clinton, the first woman nominated for president by either of the two major parties, Trump won 52% of votes cast by men but only 41% of those cast by women. That gender gap of 11 percentage points tied the biggest recorded in the four decades it’s been tracked in U.S. presidential elections. Trump entered office with an approval rating of 50% among men and 38% among women — another substantial gap, and one that has remained in the double digits during his presidency. A large gender gap drove the outcome of the 2018 U.S. midterm election, when Democrats captured control of the House of Representatives. Polls show female voters are a major obstacle to Trump’s bid for a second term in the Nov. 3 election. A Pew Research Center poll of registered voters in the weeks leading up to the presidential nominating conventions in August showed Democrat Joe Biden, the former vice president, leading Trump by 2 percentage points among men and 14 percentage points among women. An ABC News/Washington Post poll of registered voters taken right before the conventions began put Biden’s lead among women at 16 percentage points.