The Gender Gap
In politics and campaigns there is often talk of the "gender gap." This is generally a reference to the margin of victory the Democrats have on Election Day with women. Just last month, exit polls showed that President Barack Obama won the female vote by about ten points, 54 to 44 percent. The ten-point margin of victory is this election's gender gap.
When evaluating the outcome, both the winning and losing sides, along with political pundits and talking heads on television, examine where each party performed well and where each needed to do better in the future. So far, the analysis has been very simple: many have looked at the final tallies and concluded that the GOP needs to do better among women, and that's as far as it goes. If you listen to David Axelrod, he'll tell you that the Romney-Ryan team spoke about jobs and the economy, and that didn't work well with women because all they really care about is abortion and birth control. His team won, so people listen.
But to truly understand the makings of the gender gap, the results need to be evaluated in smaller, more defined categories, as opposed to large blanket ones like "men" and "women." Exit polls show that white women (38 percent of the total electorate) broke for Gov. Romney 56-42 -- a fourteen-point margin of victory. With a ten-point gender gap, how is it possible that Romney won any group of female voters by 14 points? Did they not get Stephanie Cutter's memo about the GOP "war on women"? In reality, it is crystal-clear what happened.
The data shows that President Obama won Hispanic and African-American women by incredible margins. Hispanic women went for Obama 76-23 -- a 53-point margin of victory -- and African-American women voted for the president 96-3 percent -- a 93-point margin of victory. When these numbers are amalgamated with the results of white women, the final ten-point gender gap appears.
These results demonstrate that there is much more of a "minority gap" than anything else. Once the GOP does a better job of reaching out to, and winning, Hispanic and African-American votes, the original gender gap previously discussed will naturally close.
Some analysts will acknowledge these numbers but still point to the fact that within each group, Romney and generally any Republican nominee performs better among men. While this is true, the margins and differences within these groups continue to vary. The gap between white men and white women is different from the gap between men and women in other ethnic groups. These results establish that voters don't always cast their ballots simply based on gender; rather, they consider an entire range of factors.
When analyzing a race or a campaign's results, it's very easy to make assumptions and grand generalizations. The talking heads on TV do it all the time. The final numbers may tell you who won, but it's what's behind those numbers that tells you how and why.
My advice to the Republican Party is to develop stronger relationships with the African-American and Hispanic communities right now. Not only is trying to put together voting coalitions months before an election disingenuous, but it's a losing strategy.
If, in the future, the GOP can do well among these groups, we might not be trying to figure out how to close the gender gap.
John Stapleton has worked and volunteered on many Republican campaigns throughout the Mid-Atlantic. He lives in North Bethesda, MD with his wife Nealey.