Race and the gender gap: White women supported Romney by 56 to 42 percent

According to exit poll headlines, “women” helped carry Obama to victory. Indeed, women overall did favor the president over Romney by 55 percent to 44 percent. But women–who make up 53 percent of the electorate–compose a pretty large and diverse group. Slicing and dicing the data gives us a clearer picture of exactly which women carried Obama to victory. For example, as we already mentioned, single women broke for Obama by a huge margin–which made up for the fact that married women backed Romney by 7 points. (Hmm, yet another reason to get rid of the institution?)

So how’s the gender gap look when you break it down by race/ethnicity? Here’s a nice chart from David C. Wilson:

race x gender chart

As you can see, white women actually favored Romney by 56 to 42 percent. In fact, Obama did worse among white women than he did four years ago. Granted, that’s significantly less than the margin among white men, who voted for Romney by a whopping 27 points. (The gender gap, after all, is very real–within every racial/ethnic group, Democrats usually do better among women than men.) But the only reason women overall went for Obama is thanks to the overwhelming support of black, Latina and Asian women. These groups opted for him at an even greater rate than the already high rate that their male counterpoints did.

I haven’t seen any polls that further break down the white female vote. But based on the trends overall, I’m guessing Obama did better among younger white women. That–combined with the fact that the proportion of white women in the electorate is shrinking (it was 38 percent this year down from 41 percent in 2004) as “minorities” become the majority–makes me hopefully that someday soon white women will be on the right end of this chart.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like Cosmopolitan.com, TheAtlantic.com, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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