Jump directly to the content

Don’t Underestimate Single Women Voters


Mar 4 2016
How unmarried women stand to change party politics on both sides of the aisle.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers was 36 years old and single when she was elected to Congress in 2005. At the time, she was so focused on her career that she wondered if she would remain single for the rest of her life. A decade later, McMorris Rodgers is now a wife and mother, the only member of Congress to have given birth three times while in office.

Her trajectory is unusual for a lawmaker, but pretty common for the growing number of American women who establish their careers and their sense of their adult selves while single, making it well into their 30s or beyond without changing their marital status. The Republican congresswoman’s story actually mirrors the narrative opening a recent New York Magazine cover story, “How Single Women Became the Most Potent Force in America.”

Writer Rebecca Traister—author of the new book All the Single Ladies—explains that the rise of single women is “a radical upheaval, a national reckoning with massive social and political implications” as single women outnumber married women for the first time in American history. Marriage has shifted from an expectation in a woman’s early 20s to a life goal saved for someday (if ever).

Both parties find themselves in a new political reality as a result of this demographic change. Republicans once relied on marriage to shift women to the right as they began to care for their families. Democrats have long had a lock on single women, getting their vote reliably in presidential elections and suffering when they don’t show up at the polls during midterms.

During the last presidential election, Mitt Romney won over most married women, but the support Barack Obama claimed from single women (23% of the electorate) was enough for him to secure the vote from women overall. Put frankly: Republicans don’t have a woman problem; they have a single-woman problem.

For a while, the GOP pushed for marriage in response. There are good reasons for this strategy beyond boosting their electoral game. Many of today’s single women are still coupling, cohabiting, and having children—without the legal status of marriage that conservatives consider an important stabilizing factor, morally and socially.

Republicans don’t have a woman problem; they have a single-woman problem.

Traister, though, celebrates “the creation of an entirely new population: adult women who are no longer economically, socially, sexually, or reproductively dependent on or defined by the men they marry.” But the rest of us aren’t all raising our naked ring fingers in salute. Some of us may even wonder if what’s being branded as independence is really privation.

Support our work. Subscribe to CT and get one year free.

Comments

To add a comment you need to be a registered user or Christianity Today subscriber.

orSubscribeor
More from Her.menutics
Moms, Go on with Your ‘Bad’ Self

Moms, Go on with Your ‘Bad’ Self

In a culture that expects perfection, sometimes failed moms are just doing their best.
A Lament for Louisiana After the Floods

A Lament for Louisiana After the Floods

As I grieve the tragedy in my home state, I’ve found solace in a surprising place.
Let Them Bake Cakes

Let Them Bake Cakes

The Great British Baking Show teaches me about offering and receiving friendship in a fractured world.
Why I’m Not a World-Changer

Why I’m Not a World-Changer

In my middle-age years, I’ve traded revolution for good old-fashioned faithfulness.
Include results from Christianity Today
Browse Archives:

So Hot Right Now

The Truth About Living with an Invisible Illness

God sees me and my pain even when others cannot.

Follow Us

Twitter

  • RT @IFgathering: But Jesus looked at them and said, 201cWith man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." MATT. 19:26 https:2026
  • Preacher and teacher @BiancaOlthoff talks about her calling on @CTPodcasts https://t.co/Cnqe8kbtBI
  • What baking cakes (or cheering on people baking cakes) can teach us about community https://t.co/ICGdoo7Jnz
  • A hometown girl shares her lament for Louisiana https://t.co/f3KoXnxGuD
  • The Great British Baking Show is even more than the greatest cooking show there is https://t.co/ICGdoo7Jnz


What We're Reading

CT eBooks and Bible Studies

Christianity Today
Don’t Underestimate Single Women Voters