Gender, Politics

The trick…is to find some segment of the electorate whose philosophy jibes with your own, and then define it as the swing vote.”

Whether it is Reagan Democrats, Soccer Moms, NASCAR dads, or now, Single Women, these so-called voting blocs invariably turn out to be much more diverse depending on where they live!

But while so-called Reagan Democrats in Appalachia have continued to vote Republican even when it means opposing someone from their own region (Al Gore), blue-collar Reagan voters in the Great Lakes and Northeast Corridor regions have gone back to their old party, sending Democrats to Congress and giving strong majorities to Clinton and Gore.

Please take a look at this very useful regional breakdown of voters (by Robert David Sullivan, who is quoted above), which I linked to a few days ago in my post on Maps.

This isn’t to say it isn’t useful to think about NASCAR dads and single mothers as important categories, but we shouldn’t loose site of the regional differences either. Fortunately, the above mentioned article on Single Women voters intelligently cautions the reader about the limitations of such studies:

Moreover, the very size of the group will make outreach efforts more difficult than targeting other demographic groups, which tend to be concentrated in major metropolitan or regional areas, Hess said. Indeed, of the 86 million single adults in America, 16 million are unmarried, unregistered women and 22 million are unmarried registered women who did not vote, according to the 2000 U.S. Census. Those numbers are on course to grow as the number of single adults as a whole continues to rise. Married-couple households, in fact, have fallen to 51 percent, according to Census figures, a trend that indicates that America is closer to becoming dominated by singletons.

… Some political analysts, as a result, consider this year’s targeted demographic the flavor of the month” for a profit-driven industry eager to capitalize on the latest political fad. In other words, single women are simply one more key demographic, like the NASCAR dads of 2002 or the soccer moms of 1998 or the angry men or 1994, who were hailed as the new targeted voters one year and all but forgotten the next, they say.

In every cycle, polling groups tend to go looking for a demographic that they can kind of get a hold on and then do polling on that group,” said Gilda Morales, a project manager at the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. We’re running out of groups.”

(Emphasis added.)