Oct 142004
 
Authors: Ryan Riggen

The split between registered men and women voters may decide the

November election.

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

candidate.

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

larger.”

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,

Chaloupka said.

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

abortion.

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

thing, however.”

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,”

Goeltl said.

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