We didn't get the right to vote until 1920, yet today, American women make up 54 percent of the electorate. If you want to guess which way a woman is going to vote, you might just need to look at her ring finger. On Tuesday, more single women voted for Barack Obama, while Mitt Romney won more votes from married women. The breakdown was not quite even, however. Obama won the votes of single women by a 67 to 33 margin, while Mitt picked up the votes of married women by a smaller margin of 53 to 46. In addition, the number of married women is decreasing. Thus, experts agree that single women are consolidating into a crucial voting bloc that is overwhelmingly siding with the Democrats.
Everybody Loves Birth Control
So why did two-thirds of single women, which include divorced, widowed, and unmarried women voters of all ages, vote for Obama? One explanation: Democrats changed the conversation about "women's issues" from abortion to birth control. Many women (and men) can disagree on abortion, but 99 percent of sexually active women have used contraception. When Obama decided to make birth control free under Obamacare, the GOP came out strongly against it and assembled an all-male panel to discuss it in Congress. Then Rush Limbaugh called women's right activist and law student Sandra Fluke, who was denied from speaking at the panel, a slut for advocating for free birth control, essentially insulting many women who use it. This all presented a clear distinction between the two political parties on that issue.
Picking on Planned Parenthood
Mitt Romney also said he would defund Planned Parenthood as soon as he took office. Planned Parenthood provides access to family planning as well as cancer screenings and other women's health services. As we saw with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure controversy earlier this year, threatening to defund Planned Parenthood does not go over well with many women. And when it comes to abortion, Republican Senate candidates Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, who made absurd comments about rape, helped the Democrats shine light on Republicans who think that abortion should be illegal in all cases, which is out of step with what the majority of Americans believe.
As the Republican party takes a hard look at demographic trends, perhaps they will moderate their stances on women's health issues. Another upside? There's a chance single women will propel our first female president to victory in 2016.