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State Battleground Polls Still Show Large Gender Gap

Experts on women and voting issued statements on Wednesday, refuting the media’s recent insistence that the gender gapÑthe difference in the way women and men voteÑhas narrowed. Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, was joined by Debbie Walsh of the Rutgers University Center for American Women and Politics and pollster John Russonello in reporting recent data that reinforce the effect the women’s vote will have on the election on November 2. Smeal warned against following national polls, as the presidential election results will be determined by a handful of battleground states. Despite reports that the gender gap has narrowed nationwide, the gender gap is still the deciding factor in many battleground states. In key state after key state, Zogby (September 13-17) has found a sizable gender gap, ranging from 10 to 20 points in most battleground states. For example, according to Zogby, Kerry is winning in Minnesota with a 20-point gender gap, in Oregon with an 18-point gender gap, and in New Mexico with a 15-point gender gap. According to Quinnipiac University (September 16), Kerry is winning in Pennsylvania with a 10-point gender gap. Russonello questioned the existence of so-called “security moms,” citing a recent Washington Post poll showing that married women with families are no more likely to hold the terrorism or the war in Iraq as a priority issue than other voters. Smeal concurred, saying, “With the Ôsecurity mom’ issue, what you’re hearing is a lot of spin. The media is describing what is more typically a conservative voter, not a phenomenon.” Internet research shows that the term is currently being pushed by right-wing pollsters and commentators in the media. “In United States elections, women count – or, to be more precise, women count more. On November 2, 2004, some 8 million more women than men will vote,” said Smeal. Walsh said that in order to take advantage of the gender gap, the presidential candidates need to steer the agenda toward domestic issues such as the economy, jobs, and healthcare. “Women feel more economically vulnerable than men,” Walsh explained. Recent polls have confirmed that women continue to be a majority of undecided voters. An American Research Group poll has found that women comprise 72 percent of the undecided vote in Pennsylvania, 68 percent in Florida, 66 percent in New Mexico, and 59 percent in Ohio. LEARN MORE check out the latest election coverage from Ms. magazine DONATE to the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Get Out Her Vote campaign

Sources:

Ms. Magazine Online; Communications Consortium Media Center Press Release 9/28/04

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