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.

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Between Covid, climate change and the budget, no wonder many women are rethinking having babies

In July in a speech to the National Press Club, treasurer Josh Frydenberg urged Australian women to have more babies. He was lighthearted about it (well, he can be, of course, it isn’t his body or financial future that will bear the brunt or the baby). “I won’t go as far as to say, like Peter Costello, one for the mother, one for the father and one for the country. But I can say people should feel encouraged about the future, and the more children we have across the country, together with migration, we will build our population growth and that will be good for the economy.”



a hand holding a baby: Photograph: Gajus/Alamy Stock Photo/Alamy Stock Photo


© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Gajus/Alamy Stock Photo/Alamy Stock Photo

A new baby boom may well be good for the economy, but the question increasingly being asked by women of child-bearing age is whether it will be good for either them or for the children they may give birth to. Dr Ginni Mansberg, a GP in the Sydney suburb of Sans Souci, has noticed an interesting trend at her practice this year. “I’ve had patients who had stopped taking the pill to get pregnant coming back in for another script telling me ‘now’s not the right time.’” And the statistics back her observation to the hilt.

Related: I don’t want children but being an aunt is the joy of my life | Lara Holmes

Australia’s current birthrate is 12.561 births per 1,000 people, that’s down by 1.25% from last year. The year before, the birth rate declined by 1.23%. For the decade between 2008 and 2019, birth rates also declined but at a much slower rate. 2008 was the last time birth rates declined by above 1% and that was the year of the GFC, of course. It appears women also vote with their fertility, and when times get tough they decide – quite understandably as Mansberg’s patients put it – that it’s not a good idea to reproduce.

Frankly, who can blame them? All of us agree that 2020 has been the year from hell and 2019 was not much better, certainly not for Australia. After a horrific drought that made even rainforests vulnerable to fire, we spent much of the last summer choking on bushfire smoke even if we lived in the inner city. And in January, the Australian Medical Association included pregnant women in the list of people vulnerable to adverse health effects from that smoke. All but the most fervent climate change denialists know that despite this year’s rain, we will face mega blazes again and soon. Not to mention floods, droughts, dust storms, cyclones and all the other “big weather” that global warming is bringing our way. And younger people tend to both accept the science of climate change and understand that they are the ones whose future will be blighted by it. Why would they want to bring another generation into the world as long as the generation currently in power, including Frydenberg, stubbornly refuses to

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