Contact: Kathy Kleeman
The Center for American Women and Politics
732/932-9384, ext. 231
Gender Gaps Apparent in Almost All 2014 Senate and Gubernatorial Races;Unlike 2010, a Majority of Women Voted for the Democratic Candidate in US House Contests
Gender gaps in voting were evident in almost all U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races where exit polls were conducted by Edison Research, according to an analysis by the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. In almost all of the most hotly contested and highly publicized of these contests, the gender gap—the difference in the proportions of women and men who voted for the winning candidate—reached double digits.
In each race where a gender gap was evident, women were more likely than men to support the Democratic candidate and less likely to support the Republican candidate. Gender gaps of 6 to 16 percentage points were evident in all 22 of the US Senate races where exit polls were conducted. Similarly, among the 21 gubernatorial races where exit polls were conducted, gender gaps of 5 to 17 points were evident in 18.
Large gender gaps were evident in some of the most closely watched US Senate races. In Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Hampshire, and North Carolina, women voters were 11 to 15 percentage points more likely than men to vote for the Democratic candidate. In Iowa the gender gap was 9 percentage points, barely missing double digits. Similarly, gender gaps greater than 10 points were evident in highly competitive gubernatorial races in Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
Susan J. Carroll, senior scholar at CAWP, suggested, “Gender gaps were even larger than usual in many of the most contested statewide races this year with women notably more likely than men to vote for the Democratic candidate. Yet Republicans prevailed in most of these contests largely because men’s votes were so heavily skewed toward Republican candidates. Men’s preference for Republican candidates was simply stronger than women’s preference for Democratic candidates.”
A greater proportion of women voted for the Democratic than Republican candidate in 15 of 21 gubernatorial contests and 11 of 22 senate contests where exit polls were conducted. Even in races where the plurality of women voted for the Republican candidate, they did so by smaller margins than men.
A 10 percentage-point gender gap was also apparent in U.S. House races. Nationally, 51% of women compared with 41% of men voted for the Democratic congressional candidate in their district; 47% of women compared with 57% of men voted for a Republican for the U.S. House. This year’s gender gap was larger than the 6-point gap in the U.S. House vote in 2010 or the 8- point gap in 2012. Moreover, women’s preference for Democratic congressional candidates over their Republican opponents (51% versus 47%) is a notable change from the 2010 midterm election when women voters showed a slight preference for the GOP, with 49% voting for the Republican and 48% voting for the Democrat in congressional elections.