Barack Obama doesn't just represent a win for the women of America in terms of his positions on reproductive choice, health care, pay equity, family leave, comprehensive sex education and subsidized child care — though, arguably, he is definitely that in comparison to the McCain-Palin ticket. He is also a win for women because — more so than ever before — women's votes propelled him to victory. So, first, congratulations, women of America! Now let's look at the numbers.In 2004, a slim majority of women — 51% — went for John Kerry over George Bush, whereas this year, 56% of women voted for Obama. In fact, this year, fully 53% of all voters were women! Men, on the other hand, split much more evenly: only 49% of men voted for Obama and 48% of men voted for McCain. By any reckoning, women, more than men, propelled Obama to victory. As The Guardian's Sarah Wildman noted yesterday, women weren't remotely swayed by the presence of a woman on the McCain ticket — so maybe politicians will start treating us like we count and pay attention to the issues. Of course, it must also be said that all women cannot share in this credit equally. Nearly 52% of white women voted for McCain (and 57% of white men did), according to AP exit polls. On the other hand, minority women voted overwhelmingly for Obama, helping all of us keep and expand our rights to reproductive choice, equal pay and equitable health care access. Overall, 95% of African Americans voted for Obama, but 96% of African-American women did so. And nowhere was the gender gap more striking than among Latino voters — two thirds of whom voted for Obama on Tuesday, says MSNBC:
In Colorado, 78 percent of Hispanic women supported Obama, compared to 73 percent of Hispanic men. In New Mexico, the gap was even greater, with 72 percent of Hispanic women favoring Obama, compared to 65 percent of Hispanic men. And in Texas, where voters overall chose McCain, 71 percent of Hispanic women supported Obama, compared to 55 percent of men, a gender gap of 16 points.
Pollsters attribute those large gender gaps in the Latino community to nothing less than Obama's emphasis on heath care and the affordability of education (as well as his outreach efforts). In fact, one could even argue that if women make great strides toward full equality under an Obama Administration, it will be because minority women had the good sense to turn out in large numbers and help elect a President who will do us all some good. So, on behalf of the white women of America — more than half of whom, apparently, didn't have to good sense to vote for the President committed to expanding all women's rights — thank you, ladies. And, from those of us white women who weren't so foolish as to vote for John McCain, well, we'll try working on our sisters. We've got 4 years. Women's Support Proves Key [MSNBC] Data Points: Gender Gap In The 2008 Election [US News & World Report] Hispanic Women Swell Ranks Of Obama Support [MSNBC] Thank You Thursday: Women Voters! [Feministing] Related: The Sarah Palin Effect [The Guardian] Earlier: Does Anyone Else Feel Like Their Value As A Voter Has Just Been Discovered? Seriously, Women Actually Pay Attention To Politics In Other Years, Too