Gender Gap Drives Election Outcomes

Women's Votes Determine Women's Rights

by Linda Berg, Political Director

The 1998 election results clearly demonstrated the power of the women's vote and the gender gap, which played a decisive role in crucial races. According to the Feminist Majority, without the women's vote, Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., John Edwards, D-N.C., Fritz Hollings, D-S.C., and Russ Feingold, D-Wis., would have been defeated in their Senate races.  The gender gap also created the margin of victory for Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Senator-Elect Blanche Lambert-Lincoln, D-Ark.

Thus, it was the women's vote that not only preserved a veto-proof Senate in the area of abortion rights, but also sustained for the Democratic Party the power of the filibuster.

In House races, the gender gap continued with women favoring Democratic House candidates by 51 percent and men favoring Republicans by 52 percent.  Women's support for Democrats declined from 1996 when women favored Democrats by 55 percent, and men Republicans by 54 percent.  Could that be because Democrats recruited anti-choice candidates for 1998 House races?

In the governors' races Roy Barnes, D-Ga., Parris Glendening, D-Md., and Jim Hodges, D-S.C., were elected by the women's vote.  In Maryland abortion- rights supporter Glendening defeated a right-wing woman with a 13 point gender gap, proving once again that women vote on issues concerning their rights rather than just supporting women.

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