Single ladies look to Uncle Sam to fill a man’s role in their lives

It’s obvious to me that men and women are built to need each other equally. But it’s just as obvious that we women are built to be cared for by men differently than men are built to be cared for by us.

In other words, when we don’t have a husband, we pretty naturally look for a fallback for all kinds of support. Enter Uncle Sam?

Let’s back up to yet another way that I am “different.” Sure my kids, and probably various guys I’ve dated, will tell you there are many ways.
But one in particular? I’m a single mom, and I’m a reliable conservative vote in any election. That makes me a statistical oddity. Single women, even more than their married sisters, overwhelmingly favor Democrats.

According to a New York Times CBS poll, 45 percent of men say they will vote for the Republican in their district and 32 percent for the Democrat. Meanwhile, 43 percent of women say they will vote Democratic, 36 percent Republican.

Today the “gender gap” in politics, or the trend of women voting more Democratic than men, is the accepted norm. But it’s a relatively recent one. So why the change?

According to the Gallup poll, the gender gap first showed up in significant terms in a presidential race in 1984. A majority of women have voted Democratic since the election of Bill Clinton in 1992.

But Gallup shows that, in 1976, a majority of women backed Gerald Ford over Jimmy Carter. For the dozen or so years before that, men and women had pretty similar voting patterns. Before 1964, “women actually voted Republican at higher rates than men did,” Gallup shows.

Married women are more likely to vote Republican than single women, though they remain a true “swing group” of voters. In contrast, single women tend to be solid Democrats.

It seems that many women who have a husband to provide for and protect them favor Republicans, while women who don’t have a husband are apparently more likely to look to the government to provide and protect instead.

I can feel the toes I’m stepping on right now. Yes, I’m the first one to say women are not a monolith, as I’ll demonstrate this November with my own vote. And as women become more economically advantaged relative to men, this could shake up electoral politics all over again.

I’ll leave all that to the political consultants to figure out what this means for getting their candidates elected. I’ll just note that there has been a lot of man-bashing in our culture in recent decades, and that’s too bad. Because the evidence suggests to me, and voting patterns are just one part of this puzzle, that women don’t really want to go it alone at all.

Betsy Hart is the author of “It Takes a Parent: How the Culture of Pushover Parenting is Hurting our Kids — And What to do About It.”

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