Gender, Supreme Court, and the midterms

October 05, 2018, 5:00 PM GMT+0

Republican men are more enthusiasic about voting than Republican women

Republicans are hoping that the debate and their defense of Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh (along with criticism of Christine Blasey Ford’s charges or sexual assault) have mobilized Republicans for the fall election, even while overall opinion in the last few weeks moved against Kavanaugh.

Recent Economist/YouGov polls provide some evidence of GOP gains in enthusiasm. They also show broad party and gender differences in how Americans perceive the relative advantages of gender. Asked last week about whether men or women have it easier today, there is a gender gap, with women much more likely than men to see difficulties for women.

The balance is that men have it easier, with one exception. There are gender gaps within the parties, though Democrats and independents both say men have an easier time. Republicans divide differently: GOP women agree that men have it easier, but Republican men disagree. They say that women, not men, have an easier time today.

That may be the group that the President was talking to in his recent rally speeches and on Twitter about his worry about young men. But what might this imply for the 2018 election? In the most recent poll, there has been a rise in GOP enthusiasm among registered voters this fall, as well as an increase in the share of Republicans saying they will definitely vote.

Democrats have changed little in their expectations of voting, but the percentage of Democrats saying they would definitely or probably vote rose just 2% in the last week, and there is now little difference between the two parties on this question. Men are consistently more likely than women to say they will “definitely” vote.

A rise in enthusiasm, however, is clear among Republicans, although the increase is limited to GOP men. Last week, 60% of Republican men said they were more enthusiastic than usual in voting in this year’s congressional elections. This week the percentage has risen 11 points. There was little change among Republican women.

61% of Democrats this week report more enthusiasm than usual, up five points from a week ago. Democratic women and men are not much different from each other.

Republicans view the Court far more favorably than Democrats do in both recent polls. And the Court’s favorable rating looks better than the approval rating Americans give President Trump (a majority disapproves) and Congress in general (12% approve; 57% disapprove). As for the Senators who are likely to vote on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination on Saturday, there is two-thirds disapproval of their behavior last week. And that condemnation is something on which Republicans, Democrats and independents agree.

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Image: Getty