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Are You More Likely To Vote For A Woman Or A Man?

Being a woman is more disqualifying for a candidate in the eyes of Republican voters than Democrats, a new poll suggests.

At the request of FiveThirtyEight, the online media and polling firm Morning Consult asked 2,030 registered voters a series of questions about the presidential election and gender, which has been an explicit issue in the campaign, particularly in recent weeks. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, a Hillary Clinton supporter, repeated a line that she’d used often before — “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other” — in the context of calling on others to back Clinton over Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination. (She later wrote, “I did not mean to argue that women should support a particular candidate based solely on gender.”) Clinton supporter Gloria Steinem said of women voters, “When you’re young, you’re thinking, you know, where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie.” (She later apologized and said she’d misspoken.) And rapper Killer Mike quoted Tuesday from what he said was a comment made by a woman activist and fellow Sanders supporter that “‘A uterus doesn’t qualify you to be president of the United States. You have to be — you have to have policy that’s reflective of social justice.’”

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The results of the poll show that the gender gap on how voters weigh gender is much bigger between parties than among supporters of different candidates in the same party.

MORE LIKELY TO VOTE FOR … LESS LIKELY TO VOTE FOR …
SUPPORTERS OF … A WOMAN A MAN A WOMAN A MAN
Hillary Clinton 40% 22% 6% 13%
Bernie Sanders 15 20 11 6
Donald Trump 13 39 28 7
Ted Cruz 12 31 20 4
Marco Rubio 9 31 23 3
Ben Carson 15 39 21 7
Jeb Bush 19 38 21 7
Candidate gender preferences by presidential candidate support

Poll of 2,030 registered voters, Feb. 10-11, 2016

Source: Morning Consult

MORE LIKELY TO VOTE FOR … LESS LIKELY TO VOTE FOR …
GROUPS A WOMAN A MAN A WOMAN A MAN
Democratic women 28% 13% 5% 8%
Democratic men 23 29 13 6
Republican women 8 29 21 4
Republican men 15 42 26 8
Women 18-29 28 19 10 11
Women 30-44 18 16 10 8
Women 45-54 19 23 12 7
Women 55-64 17 15 12 7
Women 65+ 15 21 15 3
Men 18-29 22 42 23 9
Men 30-44 14 31 20 6
Men 45-54 19 31 14 6
Men 55-64 14 34 19 6
Men 65+ 12 29 18 2
Candidate gender preferences by group

Poll of 2,030 registered voters, Feb. 10-11, 2016

Source: Morning Consult

Morning Consult asked, “Would you be more or less likely to vote for a candidate who is a woman?” A greater share of Clinton supporters than Sanders supporters or supporters of the five top Republican candidates said more likely.

Morning Consult also asked, “Would you be more or less likely to vote for a candidate who is a man?” More supporters of every candidate said more likely than less likely, but the gaps are especially big on the Republican side. For Republican voters, the preference among women for a male candidate is nearly as big as among men. (Most people said in response to both questions that the gender of a candidate would have no impact on their vote.)

That’s consistent with a report from the Pew Research Center last year that party matters more than gender in determining whether people hope the U.S. elects a woman president in their lifetime.

Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, said the results may point to a challenge for Republican women seeking elected office. Among members of Congress and state legislators, Democratic women greatly outnumber Republican women. Walsh and her colleagues have pointed to institutional factors, like the lack of a strong Republican counterpart to Emily’s List, a political action committee that backs Democratic women candidates who support abortion rights. But these polling results raise the possibility of built-in opposition among a significant minority of Republican voters to a woman candidate, Walsh said in a telephone interview. “Is there a resistance on the Republican side to voting for women, all things being equal?”

Teasing out causality is tricky here. Although the question about women candidates in the poll didn’t specifically name Clinton, she is the most prominent woman candidate today, so it’s possible that Republicans had her in mind when responding. (That might also be one reason why far more Clinton supporters than Sanders supporters said they’d be more likely to vote for a candidate who is a woman.) Then again, if some Republican voters really are less likely to vote for women — and more likely to vote for men — that might help explain why Carly Fiorina, who was the only woman candidate in the Republican Party’s large presidential field, drew minimal support in Iowa and New Hampshire before dropping out.

Other measures also showed a big party gap:

SUPPORTERS OF … MORE LIKELY LESS LIKELY NO IMPACT ON VOTE
Hillary Clinton 29% 21% 41%
Bernie Sanders 29 24 42
Donald Trump 9 55 32
Ted Cruz 8 62 26
Marco Rubio 8 50 39
Ben Carson 10 53 32
Jeb Bush 9 46 43
Would you be more or less likely to vote for a candidate who is a feminist?

Poll of 2,030 registered voters, Feb. 10-11, 2016

Source: Morning Consult

SUPPORTERS OF … MEN OVER WOMEN MEN AND WOMEN EQUALLY WOMEN OVER MEN
Hillary Clinton 65% 24% 6%
Bernie Sanders 64 21 6
Donald Trump 49 36 8
Ted Cruz 34 47 7
Marco Rubio 53 34 4
Ben Carson 41 46 5
Jeb Bush 51 30 10
Do you think society generally treats men and women equally, or does it favor women over men, or men over women?

Poll of 2,030 registered voters, Feb. 10-11, 2016

Source: Morning Consult

But the vast majority of supporters of all candidates, Democratic and Republican, said they thought a woman could serve as an effective commander in chief.

SUPPORTERS OF … YES NO
Hillary Clinton 91% 4%
Bernie Sanders 83 11
Donald Trump 63 25
Ted Cruz 70 25
Marco Rubio 81 13
Ben Carson 72 20
Jeb Bush 73 20
Do you think a woman could be an effective commander in chief?

Poll of 2,030 registered voters, Feb. 10-11, 2016

Source: Morning Consult

One other finding from the poll that caught our eye: Steinem may have had a point, in one very narrow way, about how young women compare with older women: Women voters under 30 were much more likely than older women to say that their friends influenced their vote.

GENDER AGE GROUP IMPORTANT NOT IMPORTANT
Women 18-29 30% 62%
30-44 24 67
45-54 17 78
55-64 8 83
65+ 8 90
Men 18-29 43 52
30-44 33 63
45-54 15 80
55-64 14 80
65+ 7 91
In selecting a candidate, is it important to you whom your friends are supporting?

Poll of 2,030 registered voters, Feb. 10-11, 2016

Source: Morning Consult

But men were more likely to say they were influenced by friends than women were — especially young men. Also, almost no Democrats said that whom their friends support was the most important factor to them in selecting a candidate. Of course, with this question, as with all other questions on surveys, it’s important to remember that people don’t always give accurate answers. That’s true even for polls like Morning Consult’s that are administered online rather than by phone. You can see the full results at Morning Consult Intelligence (registration required).

Carl Bialik is FiveThirtyEight’s lead writer for news.

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