Roughly 52 percent of the American electorate is comprised of women, according to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report. Single women, in particular, are experiencing a boost in growth as their share of the vote in the 2016 elections is poised to eclipse that of both married men and women. This progress may signal that more women are moving away from party affiliations and becoming the ‘swing’ voters, coveted by Republican and Democratic campaigns alike. A dive into the data reveals two important developments that suggest 2016 will be a monumental year for female voters.
More millennials voted than did senior citizens during the 2012 election. The number of millennial voters should once again grow in 2016, and millennial voters, much more so than their Generation X, Baby Boomer and Silent Generation contemporaries, are inclined to identify as independents. A whopping 50 percent of millennials now identify as independents. In the 2012 presidential election, Obama received 53 percent of votes cast by women. His opponent, Mitt Romney, received 44 percent. Though female millennials were a driving force behind both Obama victories, the left’s hold on young female voters may be weakening. Only 55 percent of millennial voters say they want a Democrat in the White House in 2016, down more than 10 points from 2008.
Perhaps the most important factor in determining how the female vote will be divided in 2016 is who gets the GOP and Democratic presidential nominee nod. Hillary Clinton has seen some of her support dwindle across the board in recent months, but she is still a 14-point favorite among women voters when polled against current GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. (This may be more of a reflection of female voters’ views of Trump more than an overwhelming endorsement for Clinton, as her support softens when she is pitted against Jeb Bush.) If Jeb Bush were to become the eventual GOP nominee or Clinton is usurped by Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden, there could be a record number of female votes up for grabs. Sanders polls well with independents overall, but Biden currently holds more sway over the female portion of the electorate. If either were to become the candidate, they would likely garner less support amongst female independents than Clinton.
Nothing in politics is certain. But, as the data suggests, an increase in female turnout and a crowded presidential field may result in a historic number of female ballots cast. The candidate that can target these voters and obtain their support will certainly have an edge on Election Day.
Account Manager, National Data