Dennis Prager has a rather strange column today trying to explain an interesting fact:

[I]t is inaccurate to speak of a “gender gap” in Americans’ voting. The gap is between married and unmarried women. Single women, especially single women with children, tend to vote Democratic, while married women, especially married women with children, tend to vote Republican.

Prager’s explanations are fascinating:

One is that women’s nature yearns for male protection. This is a heretical idea among the well educated whose education is largely devoted to denying the facts of life. But it is a fact of life that can easily be proven: Extremely wealthy women almost always seek to marry men who are even wealthier than they are. Actress Jane Fonda had more money than almost anyone in America, yet she married Ted Turner, a man who had even more money than she. Though fabulously wealthy and a feminist, Ms. Fonda nevertheless could not shed her female nature.

Given women’s primal desire to be protected, if a woman has no man to provide it, she will seek security elsewhere — and elsewhere today can only mean the government. In effect, the state becomes her husband. This phenomenon has frequently been commented on with regard to the breakdown of many black families. The welfare state simply rendered many black men unnecessary and therefore undesirable as spouses: Why marry when you can get more benefits from the state while remaining single (and get even more money if you have children while remaining single)?

Wow. So, women, especially black women, are consciously deciding not to marry Ted Turner so they can get a couple hundred dollars a month for no more than two years? Hmm.

It gets better:

The other reason married women are less likely to be liberal and vote Democratic relates to maturity and wisdom.

Just about everyone — a man as much as a woman — is rendered more mature and wiser after marrying. This is not an insult to singles. It was as true of me as of anyone else. If you’re single, ask any married person — happily or unhappily married — whether or not marriage has matured them.

The single biggest change induced by marriage is that you can no longer think only about yourself. “I” becomes “we.” Narcissism becomes far less possible in marriage than in the single state. And just as marriage decreases narcissism, it increases wisdom. Having to relate to another human being (especially of the opposite sex) to whom you have made a lifelong commitment (even if it ends in divorce) vastly increases your wisdom. And if you have children, your wisdom increases exponentially. Again, ask any parent if they are wiser since becoming a parent.

Uh huh. Any questions?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Amy Denham says:

    His argument is less than compelling. There are some that believe the highest form of narcissism is replicating oneself. And that marriage for marriage’s sake is unwise. And if women have such a primal desire to be protected, where does the motherly protective instinct come from? Seems cognitively dissonant to me. This unmarried, childless, refuses-to-be-pigeonholed-as-Democrat-or-Republican woman remains unconvinced.

  2. Steven says:

    Hmm, well the Jane Fonda example proves it all, doesn’t it? I mean, N=1 and all that.

  3. James Joyner says:

    Indeed. Of course, Jane Fonda is pretty much a microcosm of American female society, no?

  4. jen says:

    Um, yeah. No. This happily single, mature, Republican woman disagrees with that whole idea.

    One question I have: how on earth can anyone determine that they’re more mature simply because they got married? Maybe they’re more mature because they’re older? Just a thought.

  5. Anonymous says:

    A silly article, really. If a datapoint of one is meaningful, note that my radical right-wing wife was probably further to the right when she was single, I had no more money than she did when we met (we were both poor) and she is making more than me now, so I am not exactly her security blanket.

  6. Paul says:

    Actually it is quite plausible though I admit the arguments he presented to support it might be weak.

    Like it or not, the main plank in the Dem platform is that somehow government (specifically Dem government) will protect you from all ills.

    EARTH TO OTB COMMENTERS: When dems actively court single mothers and claim they will protect them from evil republicans is it any wonder some single mothers believe them?

    The fact that single women vote dem is well documented.

    The fact Dems make the arguments that they will protect them is well documented.

    So either you can either believe that Dems have been effective at selling this message or that after YEARS of focus groups and polling they are just betting their gums and Prager is nuts.

    Personally when I see Dems telling single mothers for years that republicans want to kill their children and that the dems will save them– then I hear single mothers telling me the same thing– I sorta think the dems sold their message…

    If not is sure is an odd coincidence.


  7. There’s a little truth in what Prager says. But, as usual when he’s discussing sex, gender, or sexual orientation, he paints with such a broad brush that he obscures the little nuggets of truth that might be there.

    He just tends to go loony when talking about men and women. A little loony.