The age gap

I’m fascinated by the almost non-existence of a gender gap among Iowa caucus goers.  According to these CNN numbers, Obama was supported by 35 percent of both men and women.  Clinton drew 30 percent of women voters, 23 percent of men.  Meanwhile, there was a huge age gap, with Obama supported by 57 percent of the youngest voters, but only 18 percent of the oldest.

I can’t find the stats online, but during the caucus-night coverage, I heard statistics that suggested there was  also a huge age gradient if you look only at women.  I’ve heard explanations for this ranging from "young voters aren’t nostalgic about the Clinton presidency" to "young women don’t approve of standing-by-your-man".  But I think this is much more a comment on what feminism is today.

Whether it’s because we’ve been told all our life that women could do anything, or because we’ve seen for ourselves that having women in positions of power doesn’t change everything (e.g. Margaret Thatcher, Condi Rice), my sense is that young women (Gen X and Y) are much less likely than our mothers (Boomers and older) to think that feminism means we should automatically support a female candidate. 

(see also Jody at Raising WEG on her family’s different takes on Hillary.)

6 Responses to “The age gap”

  1. Amanda Says:

    So speaking from my own personal experience with the caucus, I observed that there was approximately even support gender wise for Obama, extremely high minority support (which is saying something, given its Iowa), and predominately older women supporting hilary (60+?). My precinct was very young (avg age =25?) and very inexperienced (50-75% new voters/new caucusers).
    Certainly I think your sense of the divide described in the second paragraph fits more with what I think than the first two sentiments (for what it’s worth I’m 30, and just above the age of gen x or gen y). I think the sense is “I *will* see a woman president in my life time so don’t insult me by telling me I should vote because she is a woman instead of because I agree with her”. She has to sell herself on the issues, not on having the right parts.
    That said, the staff person from Hillary who was participating in my caucus clearly missed the right selling point. In her speech she said “I’m support H. because I feel like she’ll do what I would do. Because we grew up in the same time. Because we were flower children together… ” Continue for 1 minute until she was cut off repeatedly. The whole room was more like… uhm yeah? and?

  2. dave.s. Says:

    “.. Clinton drew 30 percent of women voters, 23 percent of men…” This suggests almost non-existence of a gender gap???

  3. Christine Says:

    I am gen-x and I am not under the delusion that I will see a woman president or a non-white male in office in my lifetime. The race is not over yet; it has just begun. Voting since the age of 18, Bill Clinton was the first candidate I voted for. I still remember the great strides he made for families. I think she will surpass him in that area if she becomes president. Barack Obama can not sell me on gender with his claim that he would do more for women. This is biased, but pop culture is dominating my view of that claim. I am interested to see how he will do in the south and not his familiar territory, the north. The bottom line is if he wins, people are placing race above gender in which issue deserves to be moved ahead first. Women’s issues in the world and at home are unfortunately not a priority.

  4. Ethel Says:

    I am a young woman who hopes (and really expects) to see a woman in office during my life. I have no problem with race getting the Presidency before gender. These should not be the sole reasons we choose our next President (though I do think they are pertinent). Ability to do the job is more important than getting a black man or a woman in office NOW. I’d rather be patient and wait until the black person or the woman running is simply the best candidate for the job or close to it, rather than vote for an inferior president because of their race or gender. And I’m not sure if I really want Obama or Clinton in office, as individuals.
    So your reasoning resonates with me.

  5. Elizabeth Says:

    Dave, but there’s no gender gap on Obama — the difference is all in support for Biden and other candidates who don’t have a chance. If you had told me a year ago that women would be only 6 percent more likely to vote for Clinton than men, I wouldn’t have believed it.
    That said, I agree with Ezra’s friend David Roberts that the level of misogyny directed at Clinton is horrifying. I wonder how many women who might have run for office are looking at this and saying “maybe there’s another way to get involved.”

  6. Christine Says:

    Until there is more diversity on the podium, it will difficult to look at the individual. It would be wonderful to have so much diversity of ethinicity and gender in the election. I wish someone would pick Condi for V.P. Every republican candidate is a white male. The only diversity there is religion. Can we really look at any of these candidates as the best person for the job when so many are underrespresented? It might take a woman or culturally diverse individual getting elected to open the door for others. I discount Cabinet members or any other appointed high level of government as progresss since they are appointed, not elected. It is like a bandage and not a cure for inequality.
    One thing that bothers me is the focus on how young Obama is compared with the other candidates; he is 47. The way young voters are voting for him you would think he was 35. Gen-x and Gen-Y need to wake up and realize that he will not restructure social security to their liking. There are 70 million baby boomers in the this nation that are very politically active. The term electibility is also annoying since it is turning the election into American Idol.
    What I predict is that when the actual presidential election arrives young people might get amnesia and not vote in the numbers as older, more reliable voters. Clinton is the only candidate, maybe Edwards that can rally the older vote come November.

Leave a Reply


9 − one =