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Women vote more than men, so should they be the new default group?

Many were surprised when white women voted for Donald Trump in 2016, but they shouldn’t have been.

While women tend to vote Democrats overall, white women have consistently voted Republicans since the 1950s, a fact that may have been obscured by the traditional voter analysis that defines men. blanks as the default group.

“When you use white men as the norm, of course, women look super-democratic, because white men are disproportionately much more Republicans,” says Jane Junn, professor of political science and gender studies. and sexuality at the University of Southern California.

“When you use that as the base category from which everything else is then analyzed, you don’t see this pattern of white women’s support for Republicans, and Trump in particular, and the same thing happens in [2020]. ”

Voters line up to vote in the midterm elections in New York City’s Brooklyn neighborhood on November 6, 2018.

Junn co-authored an article suggesting that electoral behavior analysis that interprets results for women as a deviation from male-defined models is outdated and obscures true voter preference.

When it comes to voter analysis, the default group has traditionally been the largest voting group. And even though women trump men – and since the 1960s – white male voters continue to be the standard by which all other voting groups are compared.

“It violates what we would normally do when we use statistics to interpret group-based behavior, that is, it incorrectly identifies the modal group. … Fashion just means the largest group, and men, especially white men, are not the largest group of voters in the United States, ”Junn said. “They are actually women. White women are the modal group of American electoral behavior, and this goes for the national level – the presidential vote – and also at the local level. “

In 2020, 68% of women with the right to vote said they had voted, compared to 65% of participation for men. In the 2016 presidential election, 63% of women and 59% of men said they had voted.

Regarding race and gender, 69.6% of white women said they voted, compared to 67% of white men in 2020. While in 2016, 66.8% of white women and 63.7% of white men said they voted.

Women vote more than men, so should they be the new default group?

Women listen to then-US President Donald Trump’s speech at a rally in Allentown, Pa. On October 26, 2020.

Junn says the white male-centered approach to voter analysis is limiting because it fails to consider the dynamic nature of the electorate.

“The point of view encourages us to think in static terms,” she says. “It encourages us to think of behavior only in terms of the past, or mainly in terms of the past, and it encourages us to just think of things as stable.”

Rethinking how votes are analyzed requires undoing centuries of conditioning, says Ashley Koning, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University.

“What is the modal group? What is the standard? What is the ideal in the political sphere? Koning asks. “The political sphere has always been synonymous with man and masculinity, and I think it takes a long time to change, overthrow and evolve from something like this.”

Women vote more than men, so should they be the new default group?

Marygrace Vadala holds a political placard supporting current President Joe Biden outside her home in Archbald, Pa. On October 28, 2020.

According to Junn, defining white males as the normal standard everyone is compared to can imply that anything different from that is abnormal or deviant.

“Why do we still say, you know, Senator from Kentucky, but we have to say Senator from West Virginia?” Or the presidential candidate Joe Biden and the black running mate? Junn said. “Modifiers are always attached to unusual or different categories.”

Koning agrees.

“You are creating a very specific framework through which the political system is perceived which, frankly, may not be the framework which is beneficial or which is most beneficial for the public good and the advancement of society. ”

She believes it will take many more election cycles to break the historical habit of painting men as the modal group.

“This discussion gained momentum in the classroom. I think this discussion is bubbling up in gender and women in politics curricula. I don’t know if this discussion has really reached a general level, ”Koning says. “I don’t think this is a conversation that’s still in the foreground, even after all of this, even after all these decades.”

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