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Parenting Widens the Political Gender Gap

According to new research from North Carolina State University, women become more liberal and men become more conservative as they become parents.

“Parenthood seems to heighten the political ‘gender gap,’ with women becoming more liberal and men more conservative when it comes to government spending on social welfare issues.” – Dr. Steven Greene, NC State

Greene and co-author Dr. Laurel Elder of Hartwick College used data from the 2008 presidential election from the American National Election Studies to evaluate the voting decisions of men and women with children at home.

“Basically, women with children in the home were more liberal on social welfare attitudes, and attitudes about the Iraq War, than women without children at home, which is a very different understanding of the politics of mothers than captured by the ‘Security Mom’ label popular in much media coverage. But men with kids are more conservative on social welfare issues than men without kids.” – Greene

The authors said that the attitudes toward Iraq of men with kids did not differ from those without kids, and that the ‘Sarah Palin effect’ (perceiving her as a working mom) did not affect how parents viewed Palin.

The researchers looked at data from previous elections, going back through 1980, and said that the trend for men with children to become more conservative is still strengthening, and the trend for moms to become more liberal is still steady. The research, “‘Mortgage Moms’ and ‘More Responsible Fathers’: Parenthood and Issue Attitudes in the 2008 Presidential Election,” was presented at the American Political Science Association’s annual meeting in Toronto, Sept. 5.

“It appears that the Democratic position, that government has a role in addressing social problems, appeals to women with children. Whereas men with children are drawn to the Republican arguments that government should not play a major role on social welfare issues.” – Greene

I’m not really sure what to make of this, other than the study obviously only looked at those who voted, not those who are so disgusted by our country’s political farce that they didn’t vote.

And as far as those men with kids whose attitude about the military action in Iraq is the same as those without children? I’m guessing they still believe that propaganda about patriotism and sacrifice and the silly argument that ‘freedom isn’t free’. You’ve got to wonder how that changes when they’ve lost a son or nephew or daughter or niece in one of our military actions (remember, it’s not a war, so don’t call it a war). Are people breaking off from one of the two flavors of politics in the US because of it?

I’d have to say that having kids has made me lean more liberal (depends how you define liberal, I guess), but since I’m more of a GDI than a Republicrat or Demopublican, I’m sure not following anyone’s party line, regardless of the label.

What do you think?

Image: Andyrob at Flickr

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2 Responses to Parenting Widens the Political Gender Gap

  1. It would be interesting to compare the findings of this survey to those from the past several presidential elections. My suspicion is that women in general have been skewing more liberal over the course of time, regardless of whether or not they have children. The same could probably be said for the voting populace as a whole, as evidenced by the fact that we have a democratic majority in both houses of congress and a democrat in the White House.

    As far as men with kids being more conservative, that is interesting. I wonder if it could have something to do with the state of the economy, and men with children seeking stability as opposed to change (the main platform of the Obama campaign).
    .-= Testosterblogger´s last blog ..NFL Week 1: My "expert" analysis =-.

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