02/15/2013 11:25 am ET Updated Apr 17, 2013

State of the Union (Of Unmarried Women)

When President Obama announced that "the state of our union is stronger," his annual address captured the attention of a powerful but under-appreciated voting bloc -- unmarried women. Using dial-meter technology, the Women's Voices. Women Vote Action Fund (WVWVAF) and its partners tracked the real-time responses of unmarried women who watched the State of the Union speech. Their response was overwhelming. They believed that President Obama spoke to their core issues and responded strongly to the president's call for jobs, equal pay for women, raising the minimum wage, better education, stronger gun control and protecting Medicare. They also supported the president's bipartisan plan to reform the nation's election system so that single moms and women without daycare no longer have to wait seven hours in line just to vote.

The dial-meter responses confirmed one of the past decade's biggest political discoveries -- that marital status, not gender, is the strongest predictor of political support, deciding whether one registers and how one votes. Unmarried women made up 23 percent of the overall electorate in 2012, and an impressive two-thirds of them cast their ballots for President Obama. In fact, if unmarried women had voted for Governor Romney at the same rate as married women did in 2012, the election would have been a Romney landslide. He would have won 308 electoral votes to just 230 for President Obama, according to an analysis by the WVWVAF.

As President Obama begins his second term, it's heartening to know he is continuing to address issues of vital importance to the Rising American Electorate, which includes people of color, young voters, single mothers and other unmarried women. It's not only smart policy but smart politics, too.

Political loyalty can be fleeting, and relationships left untended can weaken, especially during off-year elections. In 2010, for example, when many unmarried women felt that their representatives had ignored the issues that affected them personally, fewer single women went to the polls. Unmarried women accounted for only 18 percent of the electorate in 2010, even though they had constituted 20 percent of all voters just two years earlier. We are still feeling the political after-shocks, in state after state.

The election of 2012 brought this important voting force back in massive numbers, and unmarried women were a deciding factor in sending President Obama back to the White House and in shaping Senate and House races around the country. Today, the state of the union of unmarried women is strong, and our political leaders can keep it that way by continuing to pay close attention to the issues that matter most to this massive, and growing, voting bloc.


For more information on our State of the Union dial-meter testing and focus-group research, conducted in concert with Democracy Corps and The Economic Media Project, please click here.

Women's Voices. Women's Vote Action Fund (WVWVAF) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501 (c)(4) organization founded in 2005 and dedicated to increasing the voting participation and issue advocacy of unmarried women. Increasing the number of unmarried women and other progressives who register, turn out and participate in our democracy and our government is the primary goal of WVWVAF. To that end, the Action Fund uses innovative, research-driven voter education, get out the vote and advocacy programs, advertising and messaging to engage and provide unmarried women with access to the ballot and information that gives them a stake in the outcome of political debates and elections. Learn more at