100 Years of Women Voting

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>>John Haskell: Welcome
to the Library of Congress. I’m John Haskell, Director
of the Kluge Center, here at the Library,
the host of this event. In the words of its charter,
the Kluge Center was created “to reinvigorate the
interconnection between thought and action through conversations
and meetings with members of Congress, their staffs, and the broader policymaking
community in order to bridge the divide
between knowledge and power.” On a day-to-day basis,
this means that we at Kluge support scholars doing
innovative and specialized work and we project scholarly
work to a broader audience in events like today’s. The Library has had, as most
of you know, a book festival for going on 20 years. It happens on a single
day, Labor Day weekend, but the book festival
is now a yearlong event for the first time this year. And this fall in
our NBF Presents, National Book Festival
Presents Series, we had among others Neil Patrick
Harris drawing an overflow crowd in here on his children’s books,
Brad Meltzer, Karen Armstrong, Andre Aciman on his
new book, and others. We are looking forward
to the announcement of the 2020 lineup
for this program. Today we are highlighting
100 years of women voting with a program that dovetails with the Shall Not Be Denied
exhibit here at the Library that commemorates
the ratification of the 19th Amendment. I hope you’ll take the time
to visit it after the program. It remains open until
6:30 or 7:00 pm tonight for people attending
this program. Tonight we have Christina
Wolbrecht. She has literally written
the book on the subject with the forthcoming,
she’s in the middle, in case you can’t tell who is
laughing, “A Century of Votes for Women: American
Election Since Suffrage,” coauthored with Kevin Corder. She’s also the author of
“Counting Women’s Ballots: Female Voters from Suffrage
Up Through The New Deal.” She’s the director of the
Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy at Notre
Dame University, where she is on the political
science faculty. Jane June, immediately
to my left, is Professor of Political Science
at the University of Southern California
and a leading authority on political participation
and public opinion. She’s the author of
several books and dozens of articles including “The
Politics of Belonging: Race, Immigration, and
Public Opinion.” She is currently at work
on a book on the gender gap and voting in the United States. Our panel moderator Colleen
Shogan is Assistant Deputy Librarian for Collections
and Services at the Library of Congress. She is the librarian
of Congress’s designee on the Women’s Suffrage
Centennial Commission and serves as Vice Chair of the Commission. Please join me in welcoming
Colleen, Christina and Jane. [ Applause ]>>Colleen Shogan: Thanks, John. I think we’re going to have
a terrific conversation this afternoon and we will
be taking questions after our conversation. So save them up and we’ll
have microphones roving around so you can participate
in the conversation. I’d like to start
out with a basic but fundamental question
to both of you. Should we be using the
terms “female voter” or “women’s voting” or is there
something inherently problematic with those terms?>>Christina Wolbrecht: We’re going to be too
nice to each other. I think [inaudible].>>Jane June: Don’t count on it.>>Christina Wolbrecht:
So it’s a great question and a great place to start. I think one of the things
that all of us who look at women voters and
look at the way that women voters have been
talked about politically and by candidates in the press
over time is to recognize that on the one hand there are
certain patterns we can see among women. Women were excluded from
the franchise as women. They were enfranchised as women. So there’s a good reason to keep
gender sort of front and center. You can do that and still
acknowledge that women are as diverse and different
as men are, as we would absolutely expect. And so it is almost always,
always been the case for example that any differences between
women voters on average and men voters on average
are far and away swamped by differences between
racial groups, on the basis of education, et cetera. At the same time we know that across racial groups
there’s a gender gap. So I think to really understand
women as voters, we need to sort of see women as all
the other identities and interests that they have.>>Jane June: Great question and
I think we should use terms like “women’s vote” and “female
voter” and that goes to the basic difference
between men and women and how much power
they have in society. We we’re just talking about
this in the green room before and if you are a women and
you are traveling to a city as I did last night,
do you think about what time you
will arrive and whether or not you can take the subway
or whether or not you have to take a cab, where is your
hotel, can you walk in the dark. You think about that,
right, as a woman. Right? It’s foremost in your
mind about where you can be and what you can do and that
is because we are constrained in a fundamentally different
way than men are as a function of the consistency
and the omnipresence of patriarchy in society. It remains so despite
100 years of suffrage. Now having said that, it
is because of that is one of the reasons why we can
use the term “women’s vote” or “female voter” because
it is a distinction with political consequences,
it’s useful but at the same time I think
we have to be very mindful about using data
wisely that we do have. First, we don’t want to
jump to conclusions just because somebody
is female or male. Second, we need to recognize the
heterogeneity in the population. And all of that to say
there’s a heterogeneity in variation inside the
category of woman itself. We talked about this also. How many of you are mothers? Let me see mothers, right. But you’re in a very
different — You wouldn’t be here at 4
o’clock if you were the mother of toddlers, probably not. It’s much more difficult for
you to be here as a mother of a toddler versus the mother of a high school age
student or an empty nester. So even within the category,
there’s heterogeneity. I think we also can
talk about women voters but we need to think
dynamically. Being a woman voter
today is very different than it was in 1964. We need to understand
context and we need to account for overlapping traits. The three most important are
inequality’s unholy trinity: race, gender and class. And I think if we do
those things when we talk about women voters, it’s
a good place to start.>>Colleen Shogan:
We’re going to go through the entire century. We’re going to start at the
beginning with the amendment.>>Christina Wolbrecht:
Settle in, everybody.>>Colleen Shogan: Yeah,
settle in with the enactment of the amendment in 1920. So women had been demanding the
right to vote for over 70 years. But finally the amendment
becomes part of the Constitution in 1920. Why does it happen in 1920?>>Christina Wolbrecht:
Well believe it or not, 100 years later this is
something we’re still sort of talking about. You know, for women to vote
was to sort of upend and sort of not just this sort of
everyday act of walking into a ballot place and
filling out forms or things but really assumptions
about what femininity and masculinity are
and what politics is. Politics was absolutely
understood as a masculine endeavor in
the same way that caring and parenting, mothering
is understood as a feminine endeavor. And so the blocks
against us were real. There’s reasons why
it took generations. A lot of things were
happening in the 20th century. You have sort of a
worldwide movement to expend suffrage
partly as a way to sort of shut off other
sorts of rebellions. We’d rather extend the vote
to other classes of people for example than risk revolution
as was seen as a threat. It’s because women
served and played so many important
roles in World War One. It’s because a number of Western
states had enfranchised women and the world had not collapsed. Children were still fed. Homes were still cleaned. So it really took a
confluence of context. The other thing to say it took
the very hard, very careful work of women activists
and that’s everyone from the national organizations
that pushed these sort of national campaigns
to the work of the protestors outside the
White House who were arrested and force fed all of these
different forms of activism in lots of different ways to
put that sort of pressure on. It’s always a puzzle. Why would people empower,
ever give more power away, why would they ever expand the
electorate beyond the people that elected them? It’s almost more surprising that it ever happens
than anything else.>>Colleen Shogan: Let’s talk about the first election
after the amendment. So this is the 1920 election. It’s only about ten weeks after the amendment becomes
part of the Constitution. What was turnout amongst women
in that election and tell us in nontechnical or nonpolitical
science terms how you were able to make those estimates
for 1920 given the fact that there’s no public
opinion polls and no exit polling in 1920?>>Christina Wolbrecht:
So this is a real problem. You would think —
It’s been 100 years, don’t we know how the first
women voters cast their ballots. But of course we don’t put pink and blue ballots
into ballot boxes. That’s actually in some ways we
kind of did during this period but I was told to not be
technical and go on forever, so I will try not to do that. And so, as Colleen just said, there’s no reliable public
opinion polls from this period with very few exceptions. And so we really have relied on
sort of supposition, assumption, et cetera, for 100 years. When Kevin and I started the
project on the earlier book just on looking at the ’20s and
’30s, people would say to me, “Well why are you stating that? We know that.” And what I would always say
is, “We think we know that. We’re very confident
that women didn’t turn out to vote, et cetera. But we don’t actually
know that.” So my really quick
nontechnical explanation will be that we were able
to take census data that tells you how many
people of voting age live in pretty small places, counties
or sometimes even subdivision of counties, and then we were
able to take election records from those same places and use
a methodological advancement that really only happened in
the last 20 years in the field of ecological inference to
infer the turnout rates of men and women in those places
and then at the state level. Now you might think
well that sounds fancy. Why should I believe your
estimates, which I’m going to show you in just a
second, and the answer is that there is an exception
to my pink and blue example which is Illinois enfranchised
women in 1912, so for elections for 1913 on, but only for
a subset of elections. This was not actually that rare. I got to see the
women’s suffrage exhibit at the National Archives today. They have a patent for a
male and female ballot box. So women would go in one, one
way and men would go in another because in a number of states
they were enfranchised early but not for all offices. Illinois is the only state
in the Union that counted men and women’s ballots
separately from 1913 until 1920. And so what we do is we sort of estimate what we think
happened in Illinois. It turns out to look
almost exactly like what actually did happen,
so we can compare estimates to the real thing, and that gave
us enough confidence to sort of look at a number of states. So we looked at ten states. There is no question every piece
of evidence including ours is that women turned out to vote
at lower rates than men did in the first elections
after suffrage. The beliefs about the proper
world of women that had backed up women’s disenfranchisement
did not immediately end. They did not immediately
go away. And so that was a big
part of the puzzle. It gets though a little bit
more complicated when you look at the level of the states. So we found this huge variation. Women were literally 50 points
more likely to turn out to vote in some states than in others. You will be shocked
to hear that in places like Virginia very few
women, white or black, turned out to vote in 1920. This was an uncompetitive
state dominated by the Democratic Party that had
poll taxes and literacy tests and general sort of
anti-democratic features. Women in Missouri and
Kentucky, more than half of those women turned out to
vote in the first election after they were enfranchised. So this is turnout in a sample
of states from 1920 to 1936. Men are in the yellow. Women are in the purple
because I like purple better. You know, they’re
going to slowly sort of close this gap over time. So this is showing again men
in yellow, women in purple, women’s turnout in 1920
across a range of states. So Virginia is that one
at the very, very low. Kentucky and Missouri
are very, very high. So what makes Virginia,
Massachusetts, Connecticut, places where very few
women turned out to vote, different than Missouri
and Kentucky? So I would emphasize two
things in particular. One is Virginia, Massachusetts and Connecticut were
very uncompetitive. Everyone knew the outcome
of those elections. Virginia was completely
Democratic. Massachusetts and Connecticut
completely Republican. Missouri and Kentucky
were rare states in 1920. They were very competitive. The election, the presidential
election in Kentucky came down to 0.05% of
the vote in 1920. It turns out when elections
are really close, parties, candidates, neighbors, husbands,
wives encourage each other to turn out to vote, right. There’s a reason. People see the value
of their vote. So maybe it wasn’t the
women didn’t want to vote. Maybe that in places that
encouraged their voting, they’re more likely to turn out. The other difference for
Virginia, Massachusetts and Connecticut is that they
had lots of electoral laws, as I mentioned poll taxes,
literacy tests, et cetera. In Virginia, of course to keep
down African-American turnout. Massachusetts and
Connecticut were 60% first or second generation
immigrant in 1920 and we wanted to keep those voters
out as well. And so very strict laws. None of that in Missouri
and Kentucky. The last thing I’ll
say about 1920 is that women actually despite
the 19th amendment did not vote in four southern states. As many states did
during those periods, they have a six-month
registration requirement. You had to register
six months in advance. Other states quickly
passed laws, had special registration
days for men and women. Four southern states said, oh we’re sorry you
missed your chance. We’ll see you in 1924.>>Colleen Shogan: So was this
viewed as a disappointment?>>Christina Wolbrecht:
So the answer is yes. Someone said this to me once
when I showed this slide that this could’ve been Twitter
hot takes in 1923 and 1924. And I’m very proud. These are headlines
for everything from “Good Housekeeping” to
“The Washington Post.” Almost immediately conventional
wisdom was well, we told you. They didn’t want
to do it anyway. Women’s suffrage was
completely a failure. And it was not just the
press that thought this. This is an article by two
sociologists in 1924 based on that Illinois data
I just told you about, one state where women’s
turnout had been pretty slow, and the title of that article
pretty much tells you all you need to know, “Women’s
Ineffective use of the Vote.” They basically did not turn
out to vote and when they did, they voted like their husbands. If you were to read any
textbook from the ’50s on, any account of women
voters after suffrage, we basically say most
women didn’t turn out, it really wasn’t the
revolution everyone expected. If you were to follow that
back to who cited who to, at some point you’re going
to come to this article, one article about one state
and one election was the basis for our conventional
wisdom as scholars about how the first women voted. As I hope I convinced you in
the slide you saw briefly, looking at one state is
almost certainly going to give you a warped view of how women actually
did turn out to vote.>>Colleen Shogan: How did
some of this lower turnout in the ’20s and ’30s,
how did that end up affecting generational
turnout all the way up until about 1980?>>Christina Wolbrecht: So
we know that women who came of political age, who
would’ve been 21 then, at the time when women were
still denied the right vote to vote who socialized into the
idea that voting was not part of their civic obligation or their life remain
much less likely to turn out to vote throughout
their lives. And that’s going to dampen
turnout across the 20th century. As you suggested, we’re going to
see just a sort of slow growth. Men’s turnout is going
to decline a little bit, women’s is going to
go up until 1980. So 1980 is the first year
in which a higher percentage of women turn out
to vote than men and that’s been true since then. It’s worth saying, however,
that there’re more adult women in the American electorate and so there’s actually
been more women voting in presidential elections
since 1964.>>Colleen Shogan: Okay. So what about midcentury,
the ’40s and the ’50s, does the turnout gap narrow? And what about vote choice,
how does that change?>>Christina Wolbrecht: So what
we saw in the United States and around the world was really that what scholars eventually
called the traditional gender gap. Differences were not at all big
between men and women in terms of who they voted for. So we start getting good
surveys in the late ’30s, mostly in the ’40s and the ’50s and mostly scholars
are not trying to explain why are women
X or Y, they’re trying to explain why do women
and men really not vote that differently at all. And their explanation
overwhelmingly, and this is both
scholars and the press, is that women just vote as their
husbands tell them to vote. Their evidence for
that is pretty limited. They basically look
at the fact that men and women vote similarly
and say well it must be because women vote as their
husbands tell them to vote. I have a secret for you. I also vote as my husband votes. You can draw your own inferences
about how the direction of influence goes in our family. It turns out that we are very
similar in lots of other ways that might be predictive
of our vote and that was probably also
true 50 and 80 years ago. If you’re a labor
union household, if you are a catholic household,
if you’re all these other sorts of things, probably you
share a lot of interests that might shape your
electoral ability. If anything, women were
slightly more Republican. My favorite example is in 1960
there were all these stories about literally using these
words, “women swooning over John Kennedy,
rushing, women in the clutch of middle age trying
to touch John Kennedy.” Women were actually
slightly more likely to vote for Richard Nixon.>>Colleen Shogan: After
civil rights legislation and the voting rights
legislation in 1960s, how does that affect turnout
for women of color into the ’60s and into the ’70s, how does
that affect the turnout rates?>>Jane June: Turnout can only
happen if you’re allowed to vote and it sounds ridiculous
but it is in fact the case that after 1964, the
vote and ’65 actually with the Voting Rights Act but
it’s also important to think about challenges to the Voting
Rights Act throughout United States history since
that period. That includes not only for example the very significant
case of South Carolina versus Katzenbach, 1966
where southern states, former slave holding
states, wanted to argue that the VRA was
unconstitutional. That was in fact
not considered to be so by the United States
Supreme Court by a vote of nine to zero including the vote of former Klansman
Hugo Black himself. What this leads to, however,
is not only an increase in the proportion of people
who are then eligible to vote so that is to say the
denominator but also increases in the numerator, people
who are turning out. It’s important to recognize
as well that in 1965 that was not the only
important piece of legislation that Congress passed and
the president signed. What else happens in 1965? An important piece of legislation, Professor
Wolbrecht?>>Christina Wolbrecht:
I’m assuming you’re talking about immigration laws.>>Jane June: That’s right. Immigration and Nationality
Act of 1965. Without that, I wouldn’t
be sitting here in front of you today, nor would
many of the people in our country be here. What happens in ’65? The Congress decides to reduce
the barriers or get rid of all of the ethnic and racial
barriers that were up prior to this, so beginning in 1924 with the National
Origins Act even extending through the 1950s. So in 1952, that is the very
first year that Asian-Americans or Asian immigrants can become
naturalized citizens and, therefore, be allowed to vote. Prior to that, Asians
in addition to African-Americans
were not allowed to vote in the United States and Asians because they could not
become naturalized citizens. So the other important
thing in addition to the Voting Rights
Act and the CRA in the year before is
the Voting Rights Act which is very much
unexpected to have any impact. I believe the Congressional
Research Service probably doing research right here in the
Library of Congress argued that it would have no impact,
that it would be nothing because when members of
Congress looked across to think about who would be coming
to the United States then, they thought they would
be reunifying families who would come to the United
States after World War Two, all those families
who had been excluded, in particular Jews from Europe. As it turns out,
that wasn’t the case. Of course, people came
from Europe but many, many more people came
to the United States from the Caribbean,
from Latin America and from Asia creating a much
more diverse voting landscape. It doesn’t happen immediately
but it begins to open the door to immigration which now
results in a voting population in the United States
that’s almost fully one-third non-white.>>Christina Wolbrecht: I’m going to just explain
the graph right quick. The solid line is the
percentage of the US population that identifies as racial
and ethnic minorities. The purple dotted line is
percentage of basically of all women voters that are
racial and ethnic minorities and the percentage of all
voting men who are racial and ethnic minorities. And what you basically see
at the beginning is of course that because of Jim Crow and
other sorts of practices, people of color are turning
out at rates much smaller even than their representation
in the population. As that representation in
the population increases, so do their voting rights. So you can see 1964
with this sort of jump. I think the important thing to
say in thinking about 2020 is that it is now the case
that women of color, African-American women
specifically, turn out at some of the highest rates of
any racial and ethnic group in politics, higher
rates than white men and about the same
rate as white women.>>Colleen Shogan: So
let’s talk about 1980. Christina referred to 1980. Why is this really an important
turning point for both turnout for women but also
for vote choice?>>Christina Wolbrecht:
So you remember that thing called
the gender gap? That is actually not a phrase
that existed before 1980. I’m sorry I didn’t
bring the graph. If you look at the Google Ngram
of the use of words in books, there’s no gender
gap until after 1980. A couple of important
things happened in 1980. One is that for the
first time there seemed to be a statistically
significant difference and a pretty significant one in the vote choice
of women and men. This graph is showing the
difference between men and women in both presidential
vote choice in purple and party identification
in yellow. One of the reasons that 1980
looked like such a big deal is that the gap in both of those
things actually declined in 1976. Do you see that place where it
falls down right before 1980? Think of who the candidates were
in 1980, moderate Gerald Ford, moderate Jimmy Carter, right. This is sort of this last moment
and then it’s Carter and Reagan in 1980 and we get
a fairly big gap. This also wasn’t an accident. That term “gender gap”
was actually coined by feminists activists. The ERA was not getting passed. Ronald Reagan who
had kicked the ERA out of the Republican
platform in 1980, he had made the first strong
prochoice platform statement in the Republican party in 1980. Feminists activists wanted to
show that women voters mattered. So what they showed is that women voters were
much more likely to vote, much more likely, ten
points more likely about, to vote for the democratic
candidate than were male voters. And so they really
had an incentive to bring a lot of
attention to that. And because those two things
happened at the same time, the Republican Party
changing on ERA and abortion, Democrats taking strong
stances in favor of ERA and in a prochoice direction, everyone assumed that’s
what caused the gender gap. Right? The parties are dividing
on women’s rights issues and they absolutely were. And now women are voting
more democratic than are men. And so this must be
what’s sort of going on. That remains a very
powerful idea. I usually bring up a Nate Silver
article talking about the role of abortion and the gender gap. The reality is from the very
beginning there’s been almost no evidence that it is
women’s issues like abortion and Equal Rights Amendment that
contribute to the gender gap. First of all, it’s interesting that whenever there’s a
difference between men and women, we say, well,
what is wrong with women, what did women do to
cause this gender gap. Initially, most of the gender
gap was actually caused by the behavior of men. This is showing party
identification over time, men again in yellow, women
in my preferred purple; 1964 is this sort of height of
Democratic Party identification and we’ve known for a long time that Democratic identification
falls off from ’64 on. It falls off really
sharply among men. It falls off really sharply
among southern white men. So it’s falling off
amongst — And why is that? Because great society programs, because of the Civil
Rights Revolution, because all of these
things that are associated with the Democratic Party. And those two things
go hand in hand. Social welfare and race become
very entangled in the 1960s. And so while certainly
over time the causes of the gender gap vary, at least
initially what was driving it was the sort of shift of
white men in particular away from the Democratic Party. Women shifted, too, but not
nearly as much as white men did.>>Jane June: I’d like to offer
a little corrective to that and that is that the population
is in fact changing here. So these are not necessarily
mutually exclusive phenomenon. What’s happening by 1980? That’s 15 years after the
Immigration Nationality Act has gone into effect which then
welcomes individuals who come from a wide variety of
racial and ethnic backgrounds as classified in
the United States. In addition to that,
African-Americans and other minorities have
now been allowed to vote for at least 15 years. So when you look at this
graph, you might think that women are kind
of staying as they are but actually the category of woman is changing
during this period. It’s going from almost
exclusively white to much more heavily, even
though if certainly not by a majority but well into
double digits, nonwhite women. Nonwhite women are the
thing that is driving, in addition to men, leaving
the Democratic party. Nonwhite women are driving
and pulling white women to look more Democratic
than they are and making that difference between
which accounts for the gender gap
and part of it. So let me ask you this. In 1984, which is usually
identified as the year that the gender gap appears
in its most consistent form, which is to say the gender gap
being defined as the difference, the proportion or the percentage
of difference between men and women in their support
for a Democratic candidate or for winning candidate. So you think that that would
men there’s a gender gap in ’84 and there is. It’s not a huge one. And that in this
year Reagan wins and women vote more Democratic
than they vote Republican. What do white women do in 1984? Do they vote majority
Democratic or Republican? What about 1988, Democratic
or Republican, white women? Republican. What about 1976? What about 1992? What about 1996 or actually
’96 is not the year. What about 2000? What about 2004? What about 2008, ’12, ’16? Where do white women
go those years? Majority which way? Republican or Democrat? The gender gap is full on. The gender gap is
seven points in 2008. It’s ten points in 2012. It’s 11 points in 2016. So it’s a big gender gap
which is to say women, more women are voting
Democratic compared to men. Where are white women
there, Democratic or Republican by a majority? They’re Republican, indeed. So when you consider what are
the causes of the gender gap, it’s no accident that
its occurring at the time that the composition
of the American public and the voting population
is changing. And why is that the case? Because African-American
women and minorities in the United States are
overwhelmingly heavily Democratic pushing and
carrying with them white women to make women overall look
Democratic even despite the fact that of the 18 elections for
president between 1952 and 2016, how many times have white women
voted majority Democratic?>>Christina Wolbrecht: The
answer is on the screen.>>Jane June: Two. So I think it’s a little
more complicated than that and these don’t have to
be either/or explanations. They’re and. So everything Christina
has said is correct and yet at the same time perhaps the
most important reason why the gender gap exists and is as
persistent as it is and growing over time is because
African-American, Latina, Asian-American women have
systematically different partisan identifications,
turnout and candidate choice
compared to white women.>>Christina Wolbrecht: So I do
agree entirely with everything that Jane just said
in that graph. And that graph I was
showing is her graph that I think is really
powerful showing that the yellow is
African-American women voting for the Democratic Party. The purple is white women. And the green in Latino women. And again what you
see, as Jane just said, is consistently white women are,
less than 50% of them are voting for Democratic candidates. It is important to say that
over time what it means to vote Democratic and
Republican is changing partly because of civil rights
realignment, et cetera. This is sort of the point we
made to the first question. Both of these things
are happening, right. And so this is 2016 data. White men, about 30% vote
for the Democratic Party in 2016 compared to more
than 40% of white women. So there is a gender gap. Women are more likely to
vote for the Democratic, white women are more
likely to vote for the Democratic candidate. It’s just most of
them still vote for the Republican candidate. Both of those things
can be true. African-American women
overwhelmingly voting for the Democratic candidate. So are African-American men,
just less so than women, right. So there’s going to be — I guess I didn’t
include the other one. This is just showing that
nothing changed since 2012. This is where I think
the complexity is exactly so important, right. The male electorate is also
diversifying during this period but it has different
implications because there are these
gender differences even within race and ethnicity
groups.>>Colleen Shogan: So when the
gender gap appears, there starts to be the creation on cable talk
shows and talk radio of a lot of these popular terms that are
used and they’re gender based. So you have “soccer moms.’ You have “NASCAR dads.” And then in another iteration,
you have “security moms.” Why do these terms become so
popular and are they limiting and problematic in their own
ways given what you just said about the complexities of race
and other variables interacting with gender when it comes
to predictive voting?>>Christina Wolbrecht:
So I’m going to flip back to soccer moms. Here we go. This is the percentage of
the population since 1980 that are white, married
and have children. It’s presented as a
female population. So the point is first of all, there’s not very many soccer
moms using a broad definition of the way it’s usually
been talked about. So one of the things
that I try to talk about in my research is
there’s how women actually vote and then there’s how we
understand women voters. And to the extent that you
think of the vote as a tool for political influence
and power, both of those things
matter a lot. So women can turn out
and vote in certain ways and that can influence
the outcome but if everyone thinks boy, to really understand
the women voter, you have to understand the
needs of white women who live in suburbs and drive their kids around in minivans
to go play soccer. You’re going to have a
very constricted view of the interests and
political needs of women. So first of all, soccer moms
aren’t very much a very big part of the female electorate. They are also, this is I’ll
talk about in a second, they’re not actually swing
voters any more than soccer dads or I don’t have up here but I can just show
the general population. What this is showing is over
time the movement in terms of Republican vote share of
soccer moms and soccer dads. And those big wide
Ts, those are showing because those are
small population, there’s a lot of variance there. They’re not really
swing voters either but we keep talking about them. We keep talking about
security moms even though women who had children and were
worried about the war in 2004 did not vote
any differently than anybody else
did, et cetera. It’s who we sort of
hand political power to, who we think really matters
and who politicians who want to get everyone to vote for
them should be appealing to. Maybe they should be
talking about other issues. Maybe they should recognize,
as Jane has said so well, how diverse racial, ethnically and in many other ways
the female electorate is. So those terms that come up time
and time again are problematic. The other thing I’ll say quickly
is they’re also a throwback. So when this nation was founded, I just got to see the
Constitution again today at the National Archives,
this was a puzzle, what are we going
to do with women. Right? We have this political
society based on consent of the governed but women can’t
vote, don’t be ridiculous. And the answer was Republican
motherhood, it’s women’s jobs in a democracy to raise up good
sons, to provide good guidance to their husbands and because
they’re not in politics, they’ll be so ethical
and morally pure because they won’t be dirtied
by the political world. It’s not clear to me that
soccer moms and security moms and hockey moms and you name it, waitress moms aren’t
just another version of this sort of political
momism. That in the end, women’s
interests are really just about their family and no other
concern that they might have.>>Jane June: Well said.>>Colleen Shogan: Okay, so we going to have one
more question before we go to the audience. You had — You talked a
little bit about 2016 and some of the results for 2016
different voting groups, both men and women
demographic voting groups, let’s get you on the record. What do you think is
going to happen in 2020? Do you think we’re going
to see similar patterns to what you have for 2016
or do we have information from the 2018 midterms or
this off-year election in 2019 that indicate that
some of these patterns or demographics might
be changing?>>Christina Wolbrecht: I
definitely think that’s one that Jane wants to answer.>>Jane June: Well remember that the voting population
is a dynamic entity. It changes every time not only with we call it population
replacement, it just means some
voters are leaving and other voters are entering. Most of the time we think
about that around age and that’s certainly part of it. We think about what are the
young voters going to do, all those young cool
people, they’re going to do something different. But we also have to keep
in mind that the population of voters any given
cross-sectional election has a different population
in it precisely because of the either success
of mobilization or the success of voter suppression or the
people just decide to stay home. And so every election we
look at, we have to think about not only the
perceptions of voters and their candidate choices and
their partisan identifications but whether or not they’re
going to go come out. Having said that,
I think the most — So keep that in mind because
turnout and mobilization, so turnout and mobilization
are critical as is candidate vote choice. But let’s just concentrate for a moment then our
thinking what can we learn from the midterm elections. So it depends on which
side you’re sitting on. As scholars, we sit squarely in
the middle and we try to look at the data for what
the data tell us. And I’ll just give you a
couple of things to think about as you consider maybe
things have changed since 2016, maybe like you might
say who is it that wins elections for people. Well, it’s everybody,
everybody that turns out. But let’s think for a
moment do you expect — Well let me just ask you
this in the first place. Did it surprise you knowing what
you knew about the gender gap in 2016 that Donald
Trump received 52% of white women’s votes? Who was surprised by that? I was surprised by that. I was supposed to
specialize in this. But I was surprised by that
in the sense that we are kind of broadened to this idea that a woman maybe would
have a harder time voting for a candidate that
had been documented to have some issues
with female voters.>>Christina Wolbrecht:
Well said.>>Jane June: But it
happened and people, a lot of people have asked
me since then to explain that and I’m going to give you
a couple of other examples. So that probably in
my view isn’t going to change a whole lot and I’ll
tell you why I think that. I think there may be some
change around the margins but this is a pattern that has
persisted for a very long time. We may in the question and answer ask why do women
support either one party or the other but I’ll give you
just some stuff to think about, not only in the 2018 midterms,
it’s a very different situation because those are
district level elections, but let me give you the
example of the special elections for the United States
Senate in Alabama. Do you remember that one? Who was running in that? Doug Jones who was
the sitting senator. Now they were running to
fill Jeff Sessions’ seat when he was appointed Attorney
General and it was Roy Moore who was the Republican. What did he become
kind of famous for? Well what was he accused of? So he was accused of some
sexual misconduct with minors, minor children, girls. And he was running against
the Democrat Doug Jones. In that election, Doug Jones
won by a very small margin. But where did white women
go in that election? Does anybody know? Did they support Roy
Moore the Republican or Doug Jones the Democrat? They supported Moore by
a margin of 63 to 34%. White college-educated
women in the state of Alabama supported
Roy Moore 52% to 45. So that only — You could argue
that this maybe is inconsistent with white womanhood or being
a mother but nevertheless, those are the facts,
as they say. Let me also give you an
example from last year. This isn’t a voting example but
this is it was about a year ago but a little more
than a year ago. You all remember the
confirmation hearings of now Justice Brett
Kavanaugh and that famous day where they had two sets of
testimony, one in the morning with Christine Blasey
Ford and one in the afternoon
with Brett Kavanaugh. Quinnipiac University did a
poll and asked people whether or not they though the Senate
should confirm Brett Kavanaugh. And of course you saw the
distinction between Republicans and Democrats clearly. So Republicans, 84% of them
said yes, we should confirm; 88% of Democrats said no. What did women — Was there a
gender gap do you think seeing Christine Blasey Ford
and then Brett Kavanaugh? There was a big gender gap. It was a fairly large gender
gap and in particular, and as pointed out by the
press, there was a big gap between whites with
college and without college. So in this case, whites with
a college degree said no, they did not think
by a majority, by 7%, but whites without a college
degree, 59% supported. But overall, where did
white female voters fall on confirming Brett Kavanaugh? Did you think they supported
confirming Brett Kavanaugh or they opposed? How many of you say that they
supported it by a majority? How many say they opposed it? They were pretty dead even. So both of you are right. All of you are right. So basically what happened
is white female respondents in answer to the
question of whether or not Brett Kavanaugh should
be confirmed were evenly split, 45 to 46%. So what I’m saying is that
I think that it’s unlikely that these are going to change,
that the loyalties of women and men to the parties
are going to change, at issue will be who’s in
the middle, who’s undecided. It’s always the case
that it’s who’s undecided and it also depends on
how it is that parties and organizations mobilize
people to come to the ballot box or turn their ballots in. So I think it’s going
to be close.>>Colleen Shogan: Great. I know we must have a lot of
questions from the audience and we do have microphones
that will be going around. So if you have a question,
just raise your hand. Yes, right here,
we have a question.>>Thank you. Thank all of you for your
incredible expertise. Since the 1960s, have
there been any studies on Asian-American
voters because we were –>>Jane June: Yes.>>And I’m just wondering why
that may or may not be included in what you’re presenting today. Thank you.>>Jane June: Your data.>>Christina Wolbrecht:
My data comes from the easiest
source I had available to which is the American
National Election Study that has not normally
done a very good job at sampling that population. So the answer is there are great
studies that have been done on exactly that question. It’s not represented
in that figure. And what do those
great studies say?>>Jane June: Well, I mean Asian-American voters
are a relatively small part of the American population
of voters, about 4%, 5%. In the state of California,
however, 14% of the population of voters is Asian-American. It’s double the size of the
African-American population, which is pretty shocking, but
not so if lately you’ve been to San Francisco or Los
Angeles or anywhere in between, this crowd looks quite
different from what we would see in Los Angeles or San Francisco. And in most cases —
Are you interested in partisan identification, is
that what you’re interested in, where people are voting? Yeah.>>Yes and if the trends to your
knowledge are at all similar to what’s happening with
other communities of color and how they vote and the
gender gap they’re in.>>Jane June: Yes,
they look very similar. So in other words, the Asian-Americans vote much
more Democratic than Republican. It depends on the type
of Asian-American voter and in particular, as with
Latino voters, you’ll see. Give me an example of who
votes Republican among Latinos who might you suspect. Cubans, exactly. And among Asian-Americans,
the same is true. There are in particular
longstanding studies of Vietnamese-Americans
in the United States who have an anti-communists
viewpoint having come to the United States
as refugee populations, as Cubans did as well. But overall, Asian-Americans
are becoming much more heavily Democratic over time. We have a number of studies. I did one of those, the
first national survey of Asian-Americans in 2008,
took that long to get one, and we’ve had studies
since then. As you can imagine, it’s very
difficult to do national surveys of Asian-Americans not only because their relatively
sparse population concentrated in certain locations, but
you can imagine the language barriers to doing so. About 80% of Asian-American
adults in the United States
today are born outside of the United States
and, therefore, may enter or usually will enter with a
language other than English. So we did our survey
in seven languages. It was a monster to do,
to translate and then to do the survey in that many
languages, even of voters. Voters like to — Most people
would like to talk to you in their original
language or the one that they’re most
comfortable with. And what we did find
though and what you continue to find is movement, much
more heavy movement toward the Democratic Party. They look a lot like Latinos. In Christina’s data here,
they like Latinos are not as Democratic as
African-Americans but they’re much more Democratic
than whites and they’re about as Democratic
as Latino voters. They’re very similar in
many ways to Latino voters with the exception being higher
on average socioeconomic status and educational attainment.>>Colleen Shogan:
Other questions? Here.>>So thank you both for your
really great information. I had a question about how
if you’ve looked at how women as new voters versus how
immigrants as new voters, like what is the kind of trend,
was it a similar adoption rate or I guess enfranchisement rate and are there any patterns
there that are comparable?>>Christina Wolbrecht: That
is a really terrific question. In some ways of course
there’s similarity, right. There’s groups that
have not had the right to vote before and then do. But there’s also really
important differences between the two, right. So most on average immigrant
communities are going to be much more likely to
have language barriers, cultural barriers, et
cetera, that obviously some of those immigrants
are also women but that not you know
characterize many of the women who were first enfranchised
in 1920. A better comparison might be
the extension of voting rights to 18 year olds in the late
’60s, right, a group that grew up in this country, knew its
traditions and issues but had to sort of accommodate
this new right. Even there, you know,
turns out young people turn out at pretty low rates and
that was certainly true. Women also turned out at low
rates but probably the reasons for those things are
sort of different, right. And so distinguishing between
being denied the right to vote which denies you getting
into the habit of voting, the experience, et cetera, and
being subject to either rules or norms that discourage you
from engaging in that sort of political activity. Obviously, by far
the most extreme case of this is you know the
treatment of people of color in the south in the first
part of the 20th century but even women have
lots of dynamics within their own families. There are stories of the few
studies that were done going to door to door, getting women
to ask political questions when their husbands would
basically say, oh but this is about politics, then you talk
to me, right, becomes sort of a different challenge. So I think my long
answer is there’s not much to compare those to directly
and there are some challenges to making that a
reasonable comparison.>>Colleen Shogan:
Oh, way in the back.>>This is not something
you discussed but I wondered if any studies have been done about whether people
were not willing to vote for the Democratic candidate
in 2016 because of her gender.>>Colleen Shogan: The
question is about yeah, 2016 and did people not
vote for Hillary Clinton because she was a woman.>>Jane June: I think
it would be — It’s a low social
desirability place to be. Even if you’re in a Hooters, it’s still a low social
desirability thing to say I won’t vote for a woman. So I think that that’s hard
to get good data on that. I think that it’s
useful to just recognize that the patterns
are very similar between by group
whether it’s white males or African-American women, the patterns are very
similar from year to year. And so the Democratic candidate
— I mean the margin was in fact if you look at the
actual turnout vote or rather the popular vote,
margins are not that different for Hillary Clinton than
they were for Barack Obama. So we don’t have good
evidence of that and mainly because people won’t tell you that in the same way they
won’t say to you directly, I’m not going to vote for that
black person on the ballot. It’s a social undesirable thing
to admit to in an interview.>>Christina Wolbrecht: So
I would agree with that. There’s almost no evidence
across other kinds of elections that women are more likely
to vote for women candidates. It just doesn’t work that way. People see their identities and
their connections to candidates in different sorts of ways. We should keep in mind that if
people are not going to want to vote for a woman, that doesn’t mean we should only
expect that behavior of men. That’s certainly entirely
something women voters might say as well. As Jane just rightfully said,
they’re probably not going to say that out loud but
we might think the way that they view candidates
and understand them and think about them is going
to be very different. I do want to reiterate
what Jane said and this is showing
the same data for 2012, second time Obama ran
for reelection in 2016. There’s not a lot
of movement here. There are gender
gaps every year. There are some changes
among some populations but really what I say to my own
students is the 2016 election was totally different
in 50 different ways but it wasn’t really that
unusual on election day.>>Colleen Shogan:
Question right here and then we’ll go over here.>>Did you look at any
of your data for women who identify as LGBTQ?>>Jane June: We don’t have that
in most studies but my guess is that women who identify with
a group that is marginalized and oppressed will more
likely be to go with a party that supports LGBTQ
rights and my guess is that they’re heavily Democratic. For the limited studies
that we do have on this being California,
we have some studies funded or rather commissioned
by LGBTQ rights groups heavily Democratic.>>Colleen Shogan:
Is there a question? Over here. Right here.>>You mentioned how after the
19th amendment it took a while, some women it was difficult
to socialize into the idea that you could be a voter and
I’m curious were there efforts to you know register women
and to encourage them to vote and if so, what were
they like in comparison to the voter registration
efforts we have today or we might’ve seen in the ’60s
after the Voting Rights Act?>>Christina Wolbrecht:
I’m so glad you asked that because there are
so many fun stories. So yes, there were. How widespread they were and how
effective they were was going to vary. So let me just give some
examples first and then talk. Now I’m sad I didn’t bring
every slide I’ve ever made because I could show
you pictures. But then talk about maybe
the possible impacts. It might’ve actually — The
difference in that is going to be politically
consequential for women. So as you probably know, the National American Women’s
Suffrage Association three months before the ratification or several months
before the ratification of the 19th amendment
transformed themselves into the League of Women
Voters for that very purpose. So the League is also
celebrating their 100th anniversary in 2020
and there will be lots of events around that as well. They, as well as
political parties, some local civic groups, et
cetera, did all sorts of things. So there were booths at state
fairs where you could go in and practice voting. The idea was women had never
actually pulled a lever, didn’t know how to you
know punch a machine, whatever it was. Newspapers ran stories in their
sort of women’s it section of the newspaper
preparing women how to vote. Some of these were sort
of tongue in cheek. So one of my favorite
headlines is women, you can’t, there’s no mirror
inside the voting booth, your husband cannot
bribe you how to vote, you know all these sorts
of ideas that silly women. It’s worth saying that there
was a concern in some states, lots of articles about the
fact that apparently according to these articles, women feared
that in order to register to vote, they’d have
to tell their age and that this would be
a great tragedy as well to have to say this publicly. There were — I have
pictures of store windows, so like the local Macy’s
would do itself over with like a voting demonstration
about how a voting booth worked and how to vote in that
state, those sorts of things and certainly the League
did lots of those sorts of activities as well. One of the things that the
political scientist Anna Harvey has pointed out is that both
political parties definitely reached out to mobilize
men and women. They formed committees. They held teas. They did special speaking events
just for women, et cetera. But men’s organizations,
the fraternal societies, labor unions, et cetera,
they had a long tradition of mobilizing men voters
and they were able to sort of continue to sort of
mobilize men in that way. Most women’s organizations
did not have that history, did not have that
structure or that experience. And so most of them took
quite a while to even think about maybe one of
the things they want to do is mobilize women. And Harvey has argued
that that’s actually one of the reasons that women were
initially actually despite the belief that women
would be flighty and you couldn’t
depend upon them, they were more loyal partisan
voters in 1920s than were men. And her argument is basically
men were mobilized by parties but also by their union and by
their fraternal organization and by their professional
organization. Women were really only
mobilized by parties, that there really weren’t as
many of these other groups and the League of
Women Voters has been since day one expressly
nonpartisan. And so that might’ve had some
political consequences for women in getting their
interest represented.>>Colleen Shogan:
Okay, time for one more. Okay, we’ll go to [inaudible].>>Thank you so much. This has been such an education
and you guys are all fabulous. So thank you for doing
this and for the research. So my question is one of the
takeaways that I might say from your presentation
is that this thing that we call the gender gap
is really more about race than it is about tender.>>Jane June: Yes.>>So why do we still
call it a gender gap?>>Jane June: It’s still
a gender gap though. It still is because as
Christina was pointing out even within each group, so white
women are still more Democratic than white men. It’s right there on the screen. It’s not huge but it’s there and the difference,
so it’s still there. It’s still the case that within
each racial and ethnic group, women are still more Democratic. And I want to also
remind you that despite or rather let you know that
despite this being the case that white women
are more Republican than they are Democratic, white women are still the
biggest piece of the pie of the Democratic Coalition. So if you just made a
pie chart, I made one, but if you just made a pie chart
and you put all of the voters for Barack Obama in 2012
and Hillary Clinton in 2016, the very biggest piece of the
pie is women who are white. So white women are
still the stalwart, they’re not the stalwart
in the sense that they don’t consistently
vote for by a majority vote for Democrats but because
there are so many white women in the electorate, I think they
make up 37% of the electorate in 2016, they are still the
biggest piece of the pie. So the Democrat Party cannot
win without white women, nor can the Republican Party. So if you are looking to
swing a voter, you’re going to look for white women.>>Christina Wolbrecht: The
only think I’ll say in defense of the gender gap is I do
like it better than asking about the woman voter,
right, which what does that even mean, right. And while it’s often lost, at
least the word “gender” has in it the idea that you know
gender actually characterizes both women and men, turns out
to be the way that this works. And so I think we want to ask you know why do
men vote more Republican than women do the same
that I think instead of just asking my gosh,
why did African-American and Latino voters vote so
much for the Democrat Party, I think we want to ask ourselves
also why do white women and men vote so heavily
for the Republican Party and what role does race play
in both of those things. And so I think if could beg
for it, the lesson would be that both of those
things matter a great deal and that we really
can’t understand either without being attentive
to that complexity.>>Jane June: It’s hard to
do that, it’s hard to account for more than one
thing at a time. But in the absence, I
mean I would say one of the largest talking
points that came out of after 2016 journalists and
political commentators struggle to explain why this had happened and you remember the more
recent working class whites or white working class,
that’s all part of it too. So gender, race, class, again
inequality’s unholy trinity, all those come back and give
us predictable redundancies and outcomes when you
have a two-party system, where one represents
one side of these traits and another might represent
another is a predictable redundancy what you will see. The final thing that I’d
like to say is about gender. It’s not just women and men. Gender is on a continuum. It’s not just men
and just women. There’s purple. There’s green. There’s yellow. There’s a whole bunch of
other stuff in between. When and until we can relax
even more assumptions to think about what does sex and gender
even mean, we’re going to be in a much better place
analytically once we do that.>>Colleen Shogan:
Please join me in thanking Christina
Wolbrecht and Jane June. [ Applause ]

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