by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
NBC News recently compared several polls to find huge shifts from Democrats to Republicans in 2022 midterm voter preferences. The big exception to these shifts across many demographics was college-educated women, who in NBC’s aggregation showed even stronger support for Democrats now than ahead of the last midterm election.
Pullman cites a television graphic showing that college-educated women are more supportive of Democratic congressional candidates now (by 4 percentage points) than they were in 2018. In contrast, women with no degrees and men with or without degrees have swung toward Republicans. Among college-educated men, the shift has been 26 points in the GOP’s favor.
In trying to understand what might account for this, it’s important to note what we don’t know about these numbers. The two publicly available 2022 NBC polling releases that presumably went into NBC’s aggregation here don’t disclose a key datapoint: The likely vote by marital status. And that datapoint is very important for this discussion.
That’s because, historically, married women tend to vote Republican. Single women tend to vote Democrat, in proportions that appear to be sharply increasing. Strikingly, “Among unmarried voters, women were more supportive of Democratic candidates in 2018 than they had been of Hillary Clinton in 2016,” Pew reported.
The 2018 Pew data NBC used for its comparison showed married women were about evenly likely to vote for Donald Trump as for Joe Biden, narrowing the historic trend of married women breaking Republican by a good margin.
“[T]he gender gap between Democrats and Republicans is actually a marriage gap,” noted columnist Mona Charen in 2014, another midterm year. “Single women vote disproportionately for Democrats and married women vote by a comfortable margin for Republicans. The decline of marriage inclines more women to vote Democrat.”