2020 Women Voters Are Fired Up This Election, On Covid, Economy And Climate

Twenty-twenty is the year of the female voter. The centennial of that right being ratified in the Constitution is turning out to also be the year when women are driving the election and the issues.

Women are turning out in droves to vote, standing in lines for hours, and could make history  ushering in “the largest gender gap of any presidential election since the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment granted women the right to vote a century ago,” wrote James Hohman in The Washington Post on September 29th.  Female voters prefer Former Vice President Joe Biden by 31%, and male voters prefer President Trump by 13%.  If 2016 is a starting point for comparison, women will out-vote men in 2020, just as they did in 2016, by a difference of 63% to 59%.  

Twenty-twenty is also the first year a woman of color is on the ballot for Vice President – at a time when racial inequality dominates the country’s zeitgeist, alongside covid-19 – and a year when more women candidates are on the ballot for U.S. House and Senate seats than ever before (both major parties combined), as 37.9% of House candidates and 23.9% of Senate candidates.

Women’s top issues – “The era of the climate voter has arrived.”

Women’s top issues in 2020 are healthcare and Covid-19, the economy and climate change.  Women have always been focused on healthcare as a top issue and it looms bigger than ever this year in the midst of a pandemic that is still out of control eight months into it and that thrust the economy into a tailspin.  Women who lean toward Biden blame Trump for mishandling both the pandemic and the economy, and resent that he has been trying both in Congress and the courts to end the Affordable Care Act, taking healthcare away from about 23 million people. 

Women are more focused on climate change than male voters, especially female Democratic voters. It could be due to the plethora of extreme weather events from wildfires to hurricanes upending their lives and data showing these events are linked to climate change.

“The era of the climate voter has arrived. This may be news to people…but these are the facts: climate change is now a top-three voter priority, climate voters are turning out in unprecedented numbers, and battleground state voters of all stripes are deeply concerned about the climate crisis. In 2020, politicians ignore climate voters at their peril,” wrote Nathaniel Stinnett on WBUR.com in September, seven months into the pandemic.

Pew reported just two weeks ago that 68% of voters still say climate change is important to their vote, even eight months into the pandemic. In a tight race, that could tip the scale. They report that 89% of women voting for Biden say that climate change is “very” (65%) or “somewhat” (24%) important to them, and 46% of female Trump voters say so (14% “very” and 32% “somewhat” important).

It could be driven by college-educated women. Professor Mary-Kate Lizotte of Augusta University told the Rutgers CAWP that, according to her research, “college-educated women are consistently liberal across several policy areas including gun control, environmental regulations, LGBTQ rights, and social welfare policy.”

Women are fired up to vote – Who does it help?

Lizotte added that “57% of college-educated women have voted Democratic in presidential elections” and that in the 2018 midterms, a whopping 70% of college-educated voted for Democrats. That upswing likely signals their votes in 2020 too, especially as more disaffected Republicans come out for Biden as well.

So, women in 2020 are politically engaged on an historic level.  Just look at the millions of women who turned out for the marches for science, for climate, and for racial equality across the nation, as well as the Women’s Marches literally on the heels of Trump’s inauguration.

“Their activism is rooted in reaction to Trump’s presidency, the #MeToo Movement, and the fight for gender, racial, and LGBTQ equality, as well as concerns about climate change and gun violence prevention. They also are clear-eyed about how such issues are clearly inter-related,” Dr. Melissa Deckman pointed out to Rutgers CAWP. Women also resent Trump filling the seat of the woman’s rights icon Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the final weeks before an election, and filling it with a woman who has vociferously argued against  women’s reproductive rights and against the Affordable Care Act.  College-educated women surveyed by the Rutgers Center for American Women in Politics said they were voting “for Ruth.”

Dr. Jennifer Wolak of the University of Colorado at Boulder thinks women’s heightened political engagement is “likely to benefit the Democratic ticket given in sheer numbers that there are more women voters, women voters are more likely to identify as Democrats, and extensive polling shows Biden’s lead with women voters to be higher than Clinton’s lead in 2016.” 

Six days to go until voting closes and then….we wait for the voters’ verdict.  Please vote – it’s your right and your responsibility.

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