New polling by ABC News-Fusion reveals massive differences over issues such as gender, race, religion, and politics between Americans; the differences between the opposing partisan and ideological groups are so extreme, in fact, that they seem to constitute visions of two completely different Americas. The authors of the resulting study note HERE that this extreme polarization on so many issues raises the question of how the country can be effectively governed, a question that seems particularly apt in the wake of the latest government shutdown.
Partisan and ideological differences of 20, 30, 40 and even 50 points raise challenging questions
of how political accommodation can occur in this country – a consideration that may gain
urgency in the aftermath of the 16-day partial government shutdown prompted by a political dispute over the new federal health care law. In an ABC News/Washington Post poll this week,
75 percent of liberal Democrats supported that law; 76 percent of conservative Republicans
opposed it. [source]
These ideological differences tend to predispose groups to support the party which would favour their interests: for example, in immigration reform, which is part of the Democratic platform, 70 percent of non-white Americans support legal status for undocumented immigrants… and 70 percent of non-whites are also Democrats or leaning-Democrats (support for this policy is highest in liberal Democrats, with 77 percent in favour).
One issue where partisanship trumps group interest, however, is gender: while more women than men believe that women have fewer opportunities in the workplace (and more Democrats than Republicans), when it comes to the issue of women in political office, the results are much more partisan in nature.
While more female Democrats than male Democrats believe that having more women in office would be a positive thing, this is an area where male and female members of the GOP are in accordance: less than 25% of Republicans of either gender believe that having more women in politics is a positive thing for America.
These are the poll’s findings on gender, available HERE:
- Among all adults, 53 percent think women have fewer opportunities than men in the
workplace. But that ranges from 68 percent of Democrats to 38 percent of Republicans, a
difference of 30 percentage points. Comparing the most unlike groups, liberal Democrats
and conservative Republicans, it’s 76 vs. 35 percent.
- Forty-three percent of Americans say it would be a good thing if more women were
elected to Congress – but the range here is from six in 10 Democrats and liberals alike to
just 26 percent of conservatives and 23 percent of Republicans. Instead two-thirds or
more in these latter two groups say it makes no difference to them.
- On gender issues, 63 percent of women think women have fewer opportunities than men in the
workplace; fewer men, 43 percent, agree. And women are 13 points more apt than men to call it
a good thing if more women were elected to Congress, 49 vs. 36 percent.
- Among Republicans, partisanship trumps gender in views on electing women to Congress: There’s essentially no difference between Republican men and GOP women in calling this a good thing, 22 vs. 24 percent. There is a difference, though, between Democratic men (54 percent see electing more women as a good thing), compared with Democratic women (among whom more, 69 percent, hold this view).
Rutgers made up this infographic to visualize the results.
It is important to note that those who did not think it was a “good thing” to elect more women to Congress were not opposed to the notion, they simply didn’t think it was important… but this means that over 75% of the women in the Republican Party do not think that it is a priority to have more women representing their interests in Congress, even though only 18.3% of elected officials in Congress are women (and most of those are Democrats). [source]
The Atlantic points out that this partisan distinction likely stems from a difference in attitude towards the women’s rights movement between Democrats and Republicans.
The worldviews on display here are starkly disparate: Republicans of both genders are likely to believe women have already achieved equal footing with men and that it doesn’t matter if they are elected to Congress. Democrats, meanwhile, believe both that women have fewer opportunities than men and that it’s important for them to be elected to Congress. [source]
With results like this, it’s no wonder that the United States is considered to have a serious gender disparity in politics by the World Economic Forum. In their Global Gender Gap report, the United States slid from 21th place in 2012 to 22th place in 2013 (after being in 17th place in 2011) – and almost all of the disparity is in the category of “political empowerment.” [source]
This is what the gender gap in the United States looks like for economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, political empowerment, and health and survival; note that the United States performs well in many of these areas… with the singular exception of political empowerment.
You can view the full report HERE, but here’s how the gender gap breaks down for the United States:
So what can this lack of political empowerment for American women be attributed to? Well, it seems like it’s the Republican Party which is effectively keeping women out of politics. By failing to run and promote female candidates and convincing the women of their own party that having female representatives is a non-issue, the GOP is keeping American women out of political power and causing the United States to slide backwards on the issue of gender equality.