Women Are Not a Voting Bloc II

A quick follow-up.

Thinking through this morning’s post “Women Are Not a Voting Bloc,” it occurred to me that Elizabeth Warren’s poor showing on Super Tuesday was a poor test case. After all, I’d already argued that she didn’t win because voters understood that she had no chance of winning and therefore didn’t want to “waste” their vote.

So, let’s look at races this cycle in sequence.

Iowa is a caucus state, so all we have to go on are entrance polls. But here’s what they looked like.

Women constituted the lion’s share of the voters in this contest, a trend that we’ll see throughout. Here, we see a modest gender effect: Elizabeth Warren came in third with women and fourth with men, at 18 percent and 14 percent, respectively. Amy Klobuchar came in last with men and women but did a full five points better with women. But the more interesting thing here is that women seem to be the difference in Pete Buttigieg’s “win” of the caucus and Bernie Sanders’ “loss.”

Let’s turn to the New Hampshire exit polls:

Again, women dominated the voting. And Klobuchar got 6 percent higher and Warren 3 percent totals among women than men. But Buttigieg was, again, the winner among women, albeit by a much smaller margin this time. Klobuchar was tied for second and Warren a distant fourth among women.

Nevada was up next and, as with Iowa, we have entrance polls rather than exit polls:

The ratios here are more balanced than in the other contests. Klobuchar does 2 points better and Warren does 5 points better among women. But, oddly, Sanders is the overwhelming favorite of both sexes this time. If only women voted, Warren would have tied for second instead of being a somewhat distant third. Klobuchar was in last place with women and men.

Next, we have South Carolina:

Here, the votes are shockingly similar. Biden dominated among men and women. Sanders comes in a distant second with both men and women. Steyer is a distant third among both. Buttigieg’s 8 percent is identical with women and men. Warren does do 3 points higher and Klobuchar 2 points higher with women. But, again, they’re the two last-place candidates regardless. (Technically, Warren ties Buttigieg for fourth with women.)

And we’ve already seen Super Tuesday but let’s include it again for completeness:

Warren is a distant third among women and a distant fourth among men. But, interestingly, Biden and Bloomberg get exactly the same percentages from both sexes—meaning Warren’s increase comes entirely at the expense of Sanders.

Now, obviously, we don’t have a control election where men aren’t allowed to vote. It’s conceivable that, starting as early as Iowa, women are shading their vote based on what they expect men to do. They’re consuming much the same media and may well have been reluctant to vote for Klobuchar or Warren because they think men aren’t going to do so.

But, much more likely, it’s simply the fact that women don’t vote solely based on their identity as women. As noted on at least two previous posts today, Warren simply isn’t that popular outside affluent, white, college-educated voters. And, for whatever reason, Klobuchar simply wasn’t that popular, period.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, 2020 Election, Gender Issues, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. gVOR08 says:

    it’s simply the fact that women don’t vote solely based on their identity as women.

    Sides et al in Identity Crisis agree. They didn’t put a number on it, but were clear that overall gender hurt Hillary Clinton, emphasis mine,

    There was indeed a historic gender gap in 2016—but not because the behavior of women changed. The exit polls showed Clinton winning women by 12 percentage points, which was similar to Obama’s 13- and 11-point margins of victory among women in 2008 and 2012, respectively. Instead, it was men whose voting behavior changed. Trump won men by 12 points in 2016—compared to John McCain’s 1-point margin in 2008 and Mitt Romney’s 7-point margin in 2012. This was a wider margin among men than any candidate since George H. W. Bush won the 1988 election in a landslide. Why did Clinton fail to perform better among women voters? One reason is the weaker gender solidarity among women. For example, in the September 2016 wave of the Presidential Election Panel Study, only about a third of women said that being a woman was “extremely important” to their identity, while 61 percent of blacks said their race was “extremely important.” That lack of gender solidarity was politically consequential too. Hillary Clinton was significantly less popular than Obama was among the majority of women who did not see gender as extremely important to their identities. Thus, Clinton’s performance among women in both the Democratic primary and the general election confirmed past research showing that race and partisanship are more important than gender in how people vote. The salience of race and partisanship helps explain why Clinton lost white women by 9 points—a deficit larger than Barack Obama’s in 2008 and Al Gore’s in 2000.

    They also noted that “traditional male” is a stronger component of identity than is being a woman.

  2. Moosebreath says:

    Note that Sanders’ gender gap was a consistent 6-8% in all of the polls.

  3. Michael Reynolds says:

    Women have had the vote since the 20’s. They are the majority in the country, the majority in just about every state (haven’t checked Alaska lately), and they are present and generally the majority in every house district, every county, every city. Despite this they have not elected a woman president, or vice president. They have not been able to pass the ERA. They’ve barely held on to reproductive rights.

    Contrast that with African-Americans who are 13% of the population but essentially irrelevant as a voting block in better than half the states. And yet we’ve twice elected a black president, and the basic civil rights laws are secure, de jure if not de facto.

    Women will have to be united around issues, not identity. Women are simply never going to buy into the more tendentious forms of feminism that attempt to cast men as the enemy and blame the patriarchy. That approach has never worked, and it never will, because for all the Weinsteins and Cosbys there is the fact that 50% of births are male. Moms are never going to demonize their sons. Most aren’t prepared to see their husbands or boyfriends or fathers as the patriarchy keeping them down. That entire boys vs. girls paradigm is flawed.

    Political activists and candidates need to stop chasing the fantasy and deal with reality. Women may be more motivated by some issues – reproductive rights, for example – but shoehorning that into some ideological attack on ‘the patriarchy’ and trying to radicalize women, has not worked and will not work. Find the issues that unite large numbers of women and large numbers of men – again, reproductive rights, health care, day care, pre-K, education – and work them as issues, not as women’s issues, but as universal issues.

  4. Lounsbury says:

    One might add to this reflexion that based against shall we say circa 1950 discrimination, white women in the USA have objectively seen rather massive improvements relative to baseline as compared to black americans as a group.

    Within such a context and within the context of other cross-cutting Interest / Identity grouping, it is hardly irrationale that gender would be not a principal driver on voting behaviour outside of certain specific circumstances.

  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    One of several problems with identity politics is the attempt to conflate apples and oranges. Gays are not Trans, Asians are not African-Americans and Latinx are not even Latinx but a number of sub-demos. Activists invariably start out attempting to organize along the African-American Civil Rights paradigm and in addition to being ineffective it’s a bit of a cultural appropriation, if I may, of the unique African-American experience. The only group in this country that has had anything close to the AA experience are Native Americans.

    Nazis killed a bunch of Greeks and Frenchmen and Brits but none of them are the Jews. In this country we’ve screwed lots of people, but none of them are the African-Americans or Indians. Their ‘identity politics’ was forced on them with carbines, lashes and ropes. They have no choice unless and until the country outgrows its stupid.

    That is not the case with Latinx (I hate that ‘x’ crap as being English linguistic imperialism), many of whom can blend into the larger white community in a way AA’s can’t, and who in any case have wildly different backstories and several distinct cultures. It’s not the case with Asians who face a tiny fraction of the racism visited on blacks. It is certainly not the case with women who could, if they decided to vote as a block, eject every single male officeholder in the country within three election cycles (6 years).

    Identity divides, issues unite. Us vs. Them is inevitably a tool of the majority. It was dumb to turn away from assimilation as an end goal. Not erasure of personal cultural preferences, but joining, becoming a vital part of, uniting with the dominant culture rather than obsessing over differences the accentuation of which serves the dominant power much more than assimilation does.

    MLK had it right: people should be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. That should remain the goal, however difficult to attain, because that goal unites African-Americans and Latinx, and gays and trans and a big chunk of whites, forming a durable majority around the proposition that we are all Americans. Identity politics has only one point of unity: opposition to the white majority. That is a doomed approach. The math does not work.

  6. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    That is not the case with Latinx (I hate that ‘x’ crap as being English linguistic imperialism)

    I’m puzzled how you figure that.

    Spanish uses gender in nouns, adverbs, and adjectives. Until recently, the masculine form was regarded as “universal.” Lately this has changed. President Fox was mocked by addressing the nation as “Mexicanos y Mexicanas.” More recently, the symbol @ is sometimes used, where appropriate, to render a word gender neutral, for example with “niñ@”. More common is to use a parenthesis to make a word inclusive, for example “Estimado(a),” kind of letting the reader choose.

    I took Latinx to be a way to conform with this practice. I admit I might eb wrong. and clearly you have a different opinion.

  7. Michael Reynolds says:

    I grew up partly in France where everything is gendered. It’s silly (and a pain in the ass for people new to the language), but if I referred to a French man or woman without the proper gendered suffix I would definitely be sniffed at. Un Francais, une Francaise. Parisien, Parisienne. Then again, I may be behind the times. I’m still adjusting to the notion that I can ‘tu’ a person I don’t know. Back at école Emile Zola that kind of thing would have earned me the triple face slap – whap, whap, whap – from my teacher.

  8. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    It’s my impression that gendered everything is the norm rather than the exception for most languages, including Germanic languages.

  9. EddieInCA says:

    @Kathy: @Michael Reynolds:

    I’m Latino and refuse to use “Latinx”. In fact, I laugh internally every time I hear it because I find the term so f**king ridiculous.

    Does the term Hispanic have a gender? No? Good. I’ll use that then if someone doesn’t like Latino or Latina.

  10. Liberal Capitalist says:



    Gabbard is still plotting her nefarious plans… only three more to go and she wins it all !!!

    HAHAHAHAHAHAH hahah HAAHAHahahahhAHHH !!!1111!!!!

    Hawaiian sting rays. With lasers on their friken heads.

  11. Teve says:

    @EddieInCA: Hispanic/Herpanic.

  12. Jay L Gischer says:

    I have seen it reported that there are women out there who really did not want to see a woman run against Trump this time. Who knows, maybe there were men, too. But that’s a story, not data. Does anyone have anything more solid than that?

  13. Kurtz says:


    In common usage, hispanic and latina/o are interchanged freely. But technically, they are two different things–the former is a linguistic grouping and the latter is a geographical category.

    @Michael Reynolds: @Kathy:

    There was a study several years ago that asked German speakers and Spanish speakers to describe a bridge. German speakers used adjectives culturally associated with femininity; Spanish speakers used adjectives associated with masculinity. This matched the grammatical geneder of the nouns in each language.

    Think about that what you will.

  14. Michael Reynolds says:

    Teve will be here all night, folks. Don’t forget to tip your waiters!

  15. Kylopod says:


    It’s my impression that gendered everything is the norm rather than the exception for most languages, including Germanic languages.

    Most Indo-European languages; definitely not most languages.

  16. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Tip the veal! Try your waitress!

  17. Kathy says:


    I stand corrected.

  18. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Not hard data, just another story. Speaking only for my wife, she has discouragingly concluded that she doesn’t think any female candidate could beat Trump right now. In her mind this is less a comment on them than her feelings on the misogyny that still exists in the US, but it’s why she eliminated all the female candidates in the pool thinking about her vote.

    Not a subject I care to dig into with a 10 ft pole and a hazmat suit, but there are definitely examples out there of women who don’t want a female to run against Trump.

  19. Monala says:

    @Kathy: the problem with adding @ in place of -a or -o is that it turns whatever word you are typing into a hyperlink.

  20. Robert Sharperson says:

    @Michael Reynolds: SPOT ON !!!!!!!!!!

  21. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Identity divides, issues unite.

    But what if the issue is that America is a rich tapestry of different people, united by ideals? Contrasted with a melting pot of homogeneous sludge?

    Democrats have done a poor job of explaining why protecting black rights, latinx rights, trans rights, women’s’ rights and gay rights protect all our rights.

    But, on the other hand, if your coalition has a lot of black, latinx, transfolks, gays and women, you have to champion their causes.

    Us vs. Them is inevitably a tool of the majority.

    This is basically why I dislike singular they for non-binary folks. More than the weird addition of another meaning to the word, it defines Them as never being a part of Us.

    (I can live with singular they, just as I can vote for Biden, but I don’t really like having to…)

  22. Lounsbury says:

    @Kathy: LatinX is pure Anglophonery – even if adopted by Latin origin people in the monolingual American cultural sphere. As a romance language speaker as my co mother tongue it’s a grotesque Anglo barbarism.

    Latine, it’s the neuter version.
    Not the grotesque American barbarism of Latinx

  23. Lounsbury says:

    @Kathy: No gendered is one linguistic option, but it’s indeed a common one although “norm” is not .

    If one grows up or is genuinely fluent – not American ‘fluent’ in gendered languages, the understanding and sentiment from language gender does not = “sex gender” – it just doesn’t map that way (as inanimates and even animals carry gender and it really doesn’t make any “sex gender” sense).

    However Anglophonery being completely isolated misundertands this entirely and then American fashionable wokeness worse butchers it further.

    LatinX is an Anglo-American linguistic-cultural imperialism from Anglophone centric language masquerading as sensitivity.

  24. Lounsbury says:

    @Gustopher: Them in the singular is an ancient and long-standing aspect of the English language, whatever precious Lefty-culty additional senses

    But, on the other hand, if your coalition has a lot of black, latinx, transfolks, gays and women, you have to champion their causes.

    Latines, black Americans, women “causes” presumes an internal consistancy and as well that their interests amongst them on the Multi-Culti agenda do not substantially diverge.

    MR’s points on finding commonalities of genuinely shared interests, rather than woke agenda asserted shared interest is spot on. Each may indeed have in their own context entirely internally legitimate causes, that however does not make a coherent agenda that pulls together politically.

  25. Gustopher says:


    Each may indeed have in their own context entirely internally legitimate causes, that however does not make a coherent agenda that pulls together politically.

    Equality, opportunity and freedom from harassment seems like a pretty coherent agenda.

    Protection in employment, housing and unwarranted law enforcement, regardless of demographic class.

    A strong social safety net to protect those at the bottom, and those who might fall.

    Devout Muslims may not be big fans of transfolk or gays, but if the party’s message always ties back to protecting all, it works — gays are free to be gay at work, and Muslims are free to be Muslims at work, and even Christians are free to be Christians. Might as well protect old people while we’re at it. Look at the messaging around the ADA when it got passed with broad support despite helping a small minority, copy that.

    (Objectivists can fuck off though)

    The needs are the same. The specific abuses are different.

  26. de stijl says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    Jill Stein v2. Useful, disruptive idiot.

    Russia is very good at cultivating assets that don’t realize they are assets.

    Trump adorably thinks he is acting as an independent agent. It would be sorta cute if it weren’t so frigging dangerous to the US and the planet. Trump is a capricious vain reactive idiot.

    Putin laughs at us daily. He should. His minions captured a very large portion of the electorate.

    Globally insignificant. Very large pile of aging nukes. Very rich oligarchs dispersed into Western Europe to buy up football clubs.

    They are playing the long con.

    Strategically, Russia punches way above its weight.

    For what they have, Russia deploys it’s assets very smartly. Gg

  27. Mu Yixiao says:


    I just pronounce it “la tinks”.

  28. Mu Yixiao says:


    Chinese (which is actually a family of about 400 semi-distinct languages) not only has no gender, but uses the same word for him, her, and it (“ta”). So “ta shi da” could mean “he is big”, “she is big”, or “it is big”.

    The three words are, however, written differently.

  29. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Gustopher: Thank you.