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Iowa: Romney's Women Trouble and More

Topics: Iowa

[Margie Omero is President of Momentum Analysis, a Democratic polling firm based in Washington, DC.]

Gender played a huge role in the Iowa caucuses yesterday...on the Republican side. Mike Huckabee's sizable lead over Mitt Romney came largely from women. According to exit polls from both the Democratic and Republican caucuses, 40% of women voted for Huckabee and 24% for Romney. Among men, Huckabee and Romney are nearly tied (29% and 26%, respectively). The full breakdown is below, with the difference between the candidates' share across gender in the right-most column (results from the exit poll may differ from final delegate totals):

1mo0104.png

In the Democratic caucus, the pattern is far less dramatic. Yes, Clinton does fare better with women than she does with men. This is likely because of turnout efforts by EMILY's List and the Clinton campaign to bring more women to caucus for the first time. She fared much better than Edwards among first-time caucus goers, although not as well as Obama, who also fought to increase new turnout (among first-timers: 41% Obama, 29% Clinton, 18% Edwards). Ultimately, Obama bested Clinton across gender. Below is the full breakdown from the Democratic caucus:

2mo0104.png

One pattern emerges in both parties' caucuses: men are more likely to vote for second-tier candidates than are women. In the Democratic caucus, 19% of men and 13% of women voted for someone other than Obama, Edwards and Clinton. In the Republican caucus, 55% of men and 64% of women voted for Huckabee or Romney. Even when we control for this pattern, there is still a larger gender gap on the Republican side than on the Democratic side, as in the table below:

3mo0104.png

These results suggest that on the Democratic side, voters are more complicated than pundits predicted. They've been quick to assume that women will automatically vote for Clinton, and men will automatically vote against her. On the Republican side, the gender gap could reflect other differences between Romney's and Huckabee's base of support-religiosity, dissatisfaction with Bush, and socio-economic status are all viable hypotheses. But Iowa also confirms that women have the ability to decide an election, even if both candidates turn out to be men.

 

Comments
Thom:

I think the "female-minus-male" calculation obscures the main point, at least on the Democratic side. If Clinton outpolls Obama among African-Americans by 35% to 30%, that will be a big story. Well...

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JJ:

The gender gap with respect to the Romney vote is very interesting and it bears out what I have witnessed on a personal level. By analogy, I would suggest that the story of how he put the family setter in a box and attached it to the top of the family car on his way to Canada is somehow related to this. Some men might view this as weird, even though they might not be emotionally moved by it in truth. Women on the other hand would be far more likely to feel the importance of the issue from the point of view of the poor dog immediately. Only a cold opportunistic person would do this sort of thing to an animal that has no say in the matter. It's analagous to how he made his fortune. Ruining other people's lives in the name of 'down-sizing' is really nothing more than succeding through the misery of others.

In addition to this, Romney has an identity problem. All politicians change their minds about issues over the course of a political career. Its human. As times change, so must points of view. But whereas Huckabee has a discernible core, Romney does not. His problem isn't how often he has "flip-flopped". His problem is that it is impossible to say with certainty who the real Mitt Romney is. He has no discernible core. It can't be arrived at either intellectually or by intuition. Most men can manage to overlook this sort of pecularity. But it is far more difficult for women to do so.

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douggop:

The women who voted for Huckachuck - if you look at the DETAILED exit polling where evangelicals, from small rural areas. They carpooled and turned out. Huck only earned 14% of non-evangelicals -- some victory.

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douggop:

Ms. Omero - Democratic Tea Leaf Reader misses a BIG part of the numbers. The women who voted for Huck, creating this "problem" for Romney, where rural evangelicals. This was a very specific market share victory for Gomer Pyle. He only earned 14% of non-evangelicals. Hardy a boomlet. I'm surprised she can stay in business, which such surface level analysis. MOst likely survives on Gov't subsidies from he r Dem pals, but ultimately us - the tax payer.

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josh:

Hate to admit it, but douggop is absolutely right. I too am surprised Omero can stay in business. Consistently her analysis is mediocre to just outright bad. I don't understand why she is even given a forum here.

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Mark:

The BIG story is that Obama dramatically expanded the electorage and won every demographic except women over 65. It's no longer just theory: OBAMA is clearly the most electable candidate. Here's to a broad democratic coalition for the next eight years, instead of a divisive return to the past. Here's to change!!! BARACK OBAMA '08!!!

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It should have been predictable. Romney's a hard-headed CEO type. Huckabee has the emotive style popular in Church, which are disproportionately filled with women. Plus the post-70s evangelical style has been crafted by women who are worried about "junk on TV" and their husbands going out and cheating on them in between getting shots of whiskey at the local bar. So this is not a surprise, but it should be a concern. The feminization of politics is part of the problem with big spending, stupid moralistic wars, symbolic issues like midnight basketball, etc. Huckabee's not a man's man, but a ladies man, typical of slick country preachers, and his disregard for business and limited government is a consequence of this.

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African politics is infested with tribalism, nepotism and so many isms. It will be interesting to note how a number of African American brothers and sisters will or are voting. Like thom has observed it will be a big thing if Clinton outpolls Obama among the African Americans.
fitzpatrick kapepe
Zambia

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