I have been following the statistics on the gender gap in voting patterns for many years, often patting myself on the back for belonging to a group that on the whole votes Democratic or breathing a sigh of relief that I am not part of a group that votes Republican. Imagine my dismay when in 2012 I read that though the gender gap exists, I belong to a group—white women—that is likely to vote Republican. Since 1972 only Bill Clinton in 1996 took a majority of the white women’s vote.
The gender gap in 2008 and 2012 was created by the fact that over 96 percent of African-American women and over 2/3 of Hispanic women voted for Obama. In contrast, white women voted for McCain by a 7 percent margin and for Mitt Romney by 14 percent.
Breaking these statistics down further, I could consider myself “home free.” Single white women and women with a college education vote Democratic. The Republican voters among white women are married women and women without a college education. Still, white women as a whole tend to vote Republican. A lot of them were waving banners at the Republican convention in August. And like it or not, these women are my people: some of them are in my own family.
I have often wondered why these women vote against (what seems to me to be) their own interests, cheerfully opposing women’s right to choose and equal pay for equal work, while supporting tax cuts for the rich (a group they certainly will not be part of if they get divorced) and a macho America-first military policy. It seems to me that some of these women are convinced that if they play their cards right—which means not upsetting the patriarchal men in their lives—they will be able find and hold onto men who will love them, support them economically, and protect physically. Others have been brainwashed (sorry!) by patriarchal religious teachings to believe that God created them to serve others, most especially powerful white men. Now even evangelical women are beginning to ask evangelical men why they have not spoken out against sexual abuse and harassment.
The Republican voting pattern of white women is changing before our eyes.
Following the recent publicity given to Donald Trump’s “pussy grabbing,” Clinton is now leading Trump among white women by 50 to 43 percent: white women with college degrees favor Clinton at 62 percent; white women without college degrees are turning to Clinton too, at 42 percent. In the same period, Trump’s 40 point lead among white men fell to 17 points. Trump’s still commanding lead among white men means that some white women are about to vote for the first time for a different candidate than their husbands. This would have been unthinkable for many married white women in the past.
This new stance of white women as a group can surely be attributed to the fact that Donald Trump is so openly contemptuous of women. Is white women’s vote against Trump a one-time thing? Or is it the case that if women break once from their men and what they have been taught, there is no going back? Will white women’s newfound support for Hillary continue down the ballot with votes for Democratic candidates for the Congress and state houses? Will it continue in future elections? Only time will tell.
I am not a betting woman, but if I were, I would bet that white women as a group are finally waking up. Let’s hope they will bring the men in their lives along with them. Otherwise we will be living in a newly divided America: white males (who though their relative numbers are dwindling still have money and power) against everyone else!
Carol P. Christ’s new book written with Judith Plaskow is Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology. They are co-editors of Womanspirit Rising and Weaving the Visions. Carol wrote the first Goddess feminist theology, Rebirth of the Goddess and the process feminist theology, She Who Changes.
Listen to Judith and Carol’s first interview on the book on Northern Spirit Radio and their second on WATER.
Carol P. Christ leads the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete. Join the 2017 spring and fall tours now and save $150.
13 thoughts on “Are White Women Voters (As a Group) Waking Up? by Carol P. Christ”
Thanks Carol, I am shocked that white women were likely to vote Republican. But it’s great to see that movement now in Hillary’s direction. And I would say there is no going back.
As regards Trump, I noticed a new book at Amazon recently called PUSSY: A RECLAMATION by Regena Thomashauer, and I have it on order. The customer reviews number 112 and average 5 stars, so the book must be worth reading!! Amazon’s review says, among other things, here is what we will learn:
How to embody radical self-celebration, and why it will change your life.
How to end the war with your body—and rather, see it for what it is —
beautiful, sacred, powerful, and so, so worthy of approval.
I was shocked too, Sarah.
My aunt had a husband who was a democrat legislator and a son who took over the father’s position. My aunt would proudly declare that she never voted democrat even for her own husband and son. I saw it as the ultimate brain washing by her father.
My father was shocked when his mother voted for John Kennedy–because she was Irish and Catholic–against her husband’s wishes.
Here in NC, a friend shared with me last week that she saw men in a polling place leaning over their wives’ shoulders as they voted. Maybe there was no ill intention, but it bothered me that it might be some form of coercion, and I was surprised that it was allowed to happen.
doesn’t sound right to me Christy, and it must be garden variety control and coercion.
Thanks, Carol! As a white married woman who has grown increasingly radical with age, I’ve often wondered why other women in my demographic would vote Republican. Once I worked with a woman who, not politically engaged at all, simply voted her pocketbook. She was white, married, and in her thirties, but she voted for whichever candidate she felt was helping her paycheck. Accordingly, she voted for Bill Clinton in 1996. She later married a defense contractor, so I’m pretty sure she voted Republican after that. Republicans are gung-ho for defense, which industry constitutes a large part of Virginia’s economy.
Like you, I have often wondered why women would vote for the party that’s against reproductive rights and pay equity. I have concluded that most of them simply don’t think.
I grew up Calvinist (there’s patriarchy for you!) and Republican in Ferguson, Missouri. That’s all I knew there was till I went to college. College was the true beginning of my education. Just a month or two ago, I was called a California Liberal by a very old man. He didn’t mean it as a compliment.
I woke up from a lovely dream this morning. We lived in a world in which no Trump of any generation had ever been born. Has anyone else read The Gate to Women’s Country by Sherri S. Tepper? Or Gibbon’s Decline and Fall? They’re not perfect books, of course, but Tepper certainly had some good ideas.
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Yes, Barbara: Sheri Tepper’s books (to which you clued me in) certainly have more and more resonance these days despite any deficiencies they may have.
I do not, and cannot, understand how any woman can vote Republican.
(Perhaps women who do see other fiction — like Margaret Atwood’s — as prescriptive and not deeply cautionary?) Those votes and Trump are far scarier than the current “creepy clown” phenomenon…or maybe it’s the same thing.
Carol, this trend gives me hope. Maybe it does suggest that women are waking up. Even the women who “play their cards right” may realize that this man maintains a stance that will ultimately make their lives much worse.
I have with interest followed the USA election from Europe. I seems to be historical one way or another. Found Micheal Moores speach on Jimmy Dore show. It explains a lot. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ov5kvWSz5LM,
I am sorry. It was the the wrong link. The right one is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOcstHhtL4Y.
I am fascinated of the mythological proportions of this election and the persons involved. Whatever happens will affect the rest of the world.
Love is the only antidote in this worldwide patriarchal, ruthless, hierarchy where money rules it all. Love includes all, all genders, all classes. If we put the blame on the poor and marginalized, and not on the rulers of this ruthless game, it says something about ourlelves. Love and a lot of inner shadowwork is the way out.
Among the more startling data to emerge from the poll:
White voters, who make up 69% of the total, voted 58% for Trump and 37% for Clinton. Non-white voters, who make up 31% of the electorate, voted 74% for Clinton and 21% for Trump.
White men opted 63% for Trump and 31% for Clinton; white women voted 53% for Trump and 43% for Clinton.
Among non-college-educated whites, 67% voted for Trump – 72% of men and 62% of women.
Among college-educated whites, 45% voted for Clinton – 39% of men and 51% of women (the only white demographic represented in the poll where the former secretary of state came out on top). But 54% of male college graduates voted for Trump, as did 45% of female college graduates.
More 18- to 29-year-old whites voted for Trump (48%) than Clinton (43%).
Not the change that was predicted at the time I wrote the blog.