The split between registered men and women voters may decide the
The gender gap, which is believed to have begun around 1980,
still exists in American politics and is continuing to play a role
in this year’s presidential election campaigns.
Since 1980, women have tended to favor the Democrat candidate
running for office, while men lean toward the Republican
According to the Center for American Women and Politics Web
site, 53 percent of men and 43 percent of women voted for George W.
Bush in the 2000 election. In the same election, 54 percent of
women voted for Al Gore compared to 42 percent of men.
“There is no question (the gender gap) still exists,” said Bill
Chaloupka, a political science professor and chair of the political
science department. “People weren’t sure it was real but it shows
up in the national numbers. In some areas, the differences are
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 61 percent of eligible
women voters cast a vote in the 2000 election compared to 58
percent of registered men.
Both President Bush and presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry
are trying to appeal to women in the coming election. On Bush’s Web
site, there is a link to “W Stands for Women” that lists women who
support Bush and a message from Bush aimed toward women.
“The country and my administration have benefited from the
strong women who serve as senior members of my White House team. I
know my life is enriched by remarkable American women – starting
with my wife Laura, my daughters and mother – who are making a
difference, bringing dignity, compassion and integrity to our
communities and our country,” according to the Bush Web site.
“W Stands for Women” is attempting to recruit more women to
support the president by appealing to issues that women consider
important. Republicans are attempting to close the gender gap,
According to the Department of State Web site, the issues most
important to women are health care, employment, education, job
security and retirement benefits.
“Women for Kerry” is also appealing to women’s issues by stating
that Kerry and his running mate, Sen. John Edwards, are committed
to helping women balance work and family, expand college
opportunities, protect their health, increase funding for cancer
research, fight violent crime and close the pay gap.
During Wednesday night’s debate, both candidates focused on many
of the issues important to women. The candidates spoke about pay
equity, education, health, affordable prescription drugs and
John Straayer, a political science professor at CSU, said there
is also a difference between female and male legislators.
“Women legislators tend to differ in policies; they emphasize
health, children and families,” Straayer said. “Men tend to focus
on regulation, finance and business. This is not an either/or
Straayer also said that there is an assortment of issues men and
women differ on, just like political parties.
“Women make up over half the voters,” Chaloupka said. “A little
change has enormous consequences for elections. Both parties are
studying the polls and trying to find a way to get a small edge.
Any dent might be the one that wins it.”
Dennis Goeltl, a sociology professor, agreed that women are
important in this election.
“I am convinced that whoever can convince women voters they are
safe and can also deal with domestic issues will win the election,”