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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Little Substantive Change in Obama vs. Romney Gender Gap

There has been little substantive change in the gender gap in Americans' voting intentions -- a conclusion I reach looking at over 11,000 interviews we have conducted since April 11. Women continue to skew toward Obama and men toward Romney.

Let’s look at the numbers. We are reporting demographic breaks on a wide variety of variables each week based on three-week rolling averages of well over 8,000 interviews each. Our first report of the demographic breakouts encompassed April 11-May 6, and included more than 11,000 interviews since we began interviewing in the middle of the week (April 11). Thus, this first period of interviewing has over 5,000 interviews with men and over 5,000 interviews with women. All are registered voters.

The gender gap for the period of time April 11-May 6 thus provides an excellent baseline. Here’s what we found:

  • Men were 42% for Obama; 50% for Romney
  • Women were 49% for Obama; 42% for Romney.
Now, the next three-week rolling average we reported included interviewing conducted April 23-May 13. Since there is an overlap of two of the three weeks, we couldn’t expect much change, and we didn’t find it: Men were 41% Obama; 50% for Romney, and women 50% for Obama; 41% for Romney.

To hone it down a bit more, we can look at our most recent weekly average, for May 7-13. Here we find men 41% for Obama; 50% for Romney, and women 51% for Obama; 40% for Romney.

There has been a little variation. Men in the baseline interviewing (April 11-May 6) were +8 for Romney, and in the most recent week were +9 for Romney. Women in the baseline interviewing were +7 for Obama, and in the most recent week were +11 for Obama. If anything the gender gap has spread out a bit, particularly among women, but this is not what I would call a substantive change.  

Of course, this overall gender gap masks interesting patterns taking place within the data. The big interest relating to the gender gap is among non-Hispanic white voters, given that nonwhite voters will overwhelmingly support Barack Obama regardless of their gender.

For our first three-week period of tracking (actually three weeks and five days as I noted above), white women were 41% vs. 50% for Obama and Romney, respectively. For the next three-week rolling average they were 42% vs. 50%. Men were similarly stable at 32% vs. 59% and then 33% vs. 59%.

Looked at differently, for our most recent three-week rolling average, white women were +8 Romney and white men were +26 Romney.  (All of these data are available here.)

One way of looking at this is to say that the spread in the gender gap among all Americans, regardless of race or ethnicity, is 20 percentage points -- the difference between the 9-point Romney edge among men and the 11-point Obama edge among women. Among white voters, the gender gap is 18 points, the difference between the Romney edge of 26 points among white men, and 8 points among white women.

Much different overall numbers, but basically the same gender gap.

Gallup’s very large sample sizes allow us to track relatively small demographic sub-segments with stability and reliability. So when a dispute comes up surrounding reports of movement within subgroups on voting intentions, these data provide an excellent source of adjudication. And in terms of any reports that the gender gap has disappeared in recent days, we just don’t see it.

More broadly, these large sample sizes provide an excellent way to track the race in general.  So far, our conclusion is that the two major party candidates, Obama and Romney, are essentially tied at around 45% to 46% of the vote each. There are some trend patterns that show one or the other of these moving into the lead for short periods of time, but so far neither of the candidates has been able to mount a sustained lead over the other among registered voters. It remains a close race.  


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