Recent polls show severe slippage for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney among women voters in the wake of a divisive battle about providing contraception that dominated the Republican primaries for the past two months.
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But is that all it is? The so-called “gender gap” has been a feature of American politics for most of the past two decades. And the chasm between male and female voters has only grown wider in recent years.
In 2008, women voters cast 56 percent of their ballots for President Obama, compared to 43 percent for Republican standard bearer John McCain. But even in 2004, when President George W. Bush eked out a narrow win over Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, women cast their ballots 51 – 48 in favor of the Democratic standard bearer.
Several federal reports on the changing demographic and economic realities of women in the workforce offer a revealing glimpse into why many have turned in recent years to the Democratic Party, which is traditionally seen as the “mommy party” because of its concern for equality, fairness, social services and the well-being of children.
A recent Census Bureau report on women in the workforce showed that women on average still earn about 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, which is essentially unchanged since 2003. Between 1980 and 2003, that ratio had moved up to 77 percent from about 60 percent.
Why the Lack of Progress More Recently?
First, wages for all workers have stagnated in the past decade. And labor experts say women are disproportionately concentrated in caring professions like teaching, whose paychecks and pensions are under assault by conservative politicians in many states.