POLITICS
10/29/2018 08:39 pm ET

Democratic Women Feel United By Gender. Most Republican Women Don't.

There are multiple pieces to everyone's identity. A new poll highlights the divides in which ones we feel matter.
Daren Woodward via Getty Images

American women, as a whole, are not the biggest fans of the current presidential administration. If only women voted in next week’s midterms, they’d likely hand Democrats a substantial overall victory.

But that doesn’t mean women are an indivisible political bloc. Views about gender often diverge more sharply between Democrats and Republicans than between men and women. And included in that partisan divide, a new HuffPost/YouGov survey finds, is a sharp disagreement between Republican and Democratic women over whether they feel a sense of kinship along gender lines at all.

Half of female Democrats say they share a lot of common interests and concerns with other women. Just 27 percent of female Republicans say the same. (Fewer than a quarter of men in either party say they share a lot of interests or concerns with other men.)

Those results echo the fractured roles that partisanship and gender seemed to play in the polling about Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation hearings. Many women who’d voted for Hillary Clinton ascribed their anger and dismay at Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation to their experience of womanhood and expressed a sense of kinship with his accuser Christine Blasey Ford. Ford’s experience “is an amplified version of what every woman experiences throughout their entire lives,” one Clinton voter we polled told us. Another, explaining why she identified with Ford, wrote simply, “I’m a woman.”

But most women who had voted for President Donald Trump didn’t feel a similar sense of female solidarity ― just 5 percent said that they personally identified with Ford, with roughly eight times as many saying they felt more of a personal kinship with Kavanaugh. Gender, to them, mattered less than other facets of their social identity, like their politics or their religion. “He is a Christian man and a conservative,” one female Trump voter noted. “I am a Christian and conservative too.”

Female Democrats and Republicans, political scientist Samara Klar wrote, “do not hold a common understanding of what it means to be a woman” ― meaning that, rather than stoking a bipartisan consensus around gender, talking about gender issues can actually exacerbate the mistrust between the women in the opposing party.

It’s not just gender and political identities that interplay. About two-thirds of Protestant Republicans, for instance, say they share many common interests and concerns with others who hold the same religious beliefs; only 35 percent of Protestant Democrats say the same. Republicans who live in the South are more likely than those in the rest of the country to feel a kinship with those living near them, while Southern Democrats show no similar predilection. And Democrats in households making less than $50,000 a year are more likely than Republicans of similar means to say they share common interests with others who have about the same amount of money.

Complicating everything further is the fact that many seemingly nonpolitical identities, including race, gender, religion and education, have, as The New York Times’ Emily Badger and Quoctrung Bui recently wrote, “increasingly become intertwined with politics,” leaving members of each party with fewer other identities in common. Women, as a whole, have edged toward the Democratic Party in recent years ― which suggests one big reason that female Republicans might not be as likely to see other women as kindred spirits.

Asked in the HuffPost/YouGov survey to choose the two groups with which they have the most in common, 22 percent of Americans said they felt closest to those in the same political party, with an equal number saying they felt the most kinship with others of the same age. Those were followed by those who felt closest to the people who live near them (16 percent), people of the same gender or the same religion (15 percent each), people of the same racial or ethnic background (12 percent) and people with similar amounts of money (11 percent). About a third said that none of the options applied, or that they weren’t sure.

Those results are a little different from a poll taken just before the 2016 election, when 30 percent of Americans chose party as the grouping with which they had the closest ties, and only 9 percent named gender. But, as the Times notes, “identities are complex, and they shift depending on the situation” ― meaning that the difference, theoretically, could mean that Americans care a little more about their parties when they’re just about to vote in a presidential race. 

The latest survey also asked respondents whether or not they thought they had much in common with each of the demographic groups mentioned.

Among the other findings:

― A 52 percent majority of all Americans who identify with a political party, including half of Democrats and 55 percent of Republicans, said they share a lot of common interests and concerns with others in their party.

― Black Americans were split 38/34 as to whether or not they had much in common with others who share their race or ethnicity, while white Americans said, by 62 percent to 20 percent, that they did not.

― Thirty percent of Americans younger than 30, and an equal percentage of those ages 30 to 44, said they have a lot in common with others their age. A third of those ages 45 to 64 and 35 percent of those older than 65 agreed. 

― Similar shares of people in households making less than $50,000 a year (31 percent) and between $50,000 and $100,000 a year (34 percent) said they share many common concerns with those in similar financial conditions. Just under a quarter of those making $100,000 or more annually said the same.

― A 59 percent majority of Americans who describe themselves as born-again or evangelical Christians said they share many interests and concerns with others of their faith. Half of all Protestants said the same, compared with just 29 percent of Catholics. Unsurprisingly, people who pray or attend a house of worship more frequently were more likely to feel a kinship with those who hold similar beliefs. 

― Just under a quarter of Northeasterners felt they had a lot in common with their neighbors, slightly below the 29-31 percent of the rest of the country that felt that way. There wasn’t much difference on this metric between city-dwellers, suburbanites and those who live in more rural areas.

Use the widget below to further explore the results of the HuffPost/YouGov survey, using the menu at the top to select survey questions and the buttons at the bottom to filter the data by subgroups:

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Oct. 4-6 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

HuffPost has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.

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