Women’s media leaders came together this afternoon in a joint press conference to announce their in-depth analysis of the critical role women voters and leaders played in the 2006 midterm elections. Feminist Majority Foundation President and Ms. magazine Publisher Eleanor Smeal joined Redbook Editor-In-Chief Stacy Morrison, Lifetime Television Vice President of Public Affairs Toby Graff, pollster Celinda Lake, and Women Donor Network President/CEO Donna Hall to release the key findings from the organizations’ two nation-wide election surveys.
Ms. magazine and the Women Donors Network (WDN) conducted an election-eve survey to evaluate the gender gap in voting preferences and issue prioritization among 1,000 voters in the 2006 elections. The principal findings (PDF) show that women voters were the decisive factor in shifting the balance of power in the Senate; feel more intensely than men about issues; and are more likely to believe that it is important to have women in leadership positions. According to the Ms./WDN survey, women voters made the difference in the Missouri, Montana, and Virginia Senate races races that were critical in deciding the majority party. The survey results also show a significant gender gap in how strongly women and men feel about certain issues. When asked how important the Iraq war is, 54 percent of women and only 43 percent of men said “very important” an 11 point gender gap. Other issues that had gender gaps of 11 points or higher include health care, the economy, and rebuilding areas affected by Hurricane Katrina. In all instances, more women prioritized these issues than men.
The exit poll conducted by Redbook and Lifetime Television focused on women’s political participation and leadership roles. After this election, a record number of women will hold seats in state legislatures and in the US Senate. Women feel more strongly that the accession of women to powerful positions is important. The Redbook/Lifetime poll found that 51 percent of women said that having the first woman Speaker of the House is “important” and 26 percent said “very important.” The two surveys support each other’s findings: women led the change in the 2006 elections.