Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Party Polarization, Ideological Sorting and the Emergence of the US Partisan Gender Gap

  • Daniel Q. Gillion (a1), Jonathan M. Ladd (a2) and Marc Meredith (a3)
Abstract

This article argues that the modern American partisan gender gap – the tendency of men to identify more as Republicans and less as Democrats than women – emerged largely because of mass-level ideological party sorting. As the two major US political parties ideologically polarized at the elite level, the public gradually perceived this polarization and better sorted themselves into the parties that matched their policy preferences. Stable pre-existing policy differences between men and women caused this sorting to generate the modern US partisan gender gap. Because education is positively associated with awareness of elite party polarization, the partisan gender gap developed earlier and is consistently larger among those with college degrees. The study finds support for this argument from decades of American National Election Studies data and a new large dataset of decades of pooled individual-level Gallup survey responses.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Party Polarization, Ideological Sorting and the Emergence of the US Partisan Gender Gap
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Party Polarization, Ideological Sorting and the Emergence of the US Partisan Gender Gap
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Party Polarization, Ideological Sorting and the Emergence of the US Partisan Gender Gap
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
Corresponding author
*Corresponding author. Email: jonathan.ladd@georgetown.edu
References
Hide All
Abramowitz, AI (2010) The Disappearing Center: Engaged Citizens, Polarization, & American Democracy. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Abramson, PR Ostrom, CW Jr (1991) Macropartisanship: an empirical reassessment. American Political Science Review 85 (1):181192.
Achen, CH Bartels, LM (2016) Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Anderson, K (1997) Gender and public opinion. In Norrander B and Wilcox C (eds), Understanding Public Opinion. Washington, DC: CQ Press, pp. 1936.
Barnes, TD Cassese, EC (2017) American party women: a look at the gender gap within parties. Political Research Quarterly 70 (1):127141.
Bartels, LM (1996) Uninformed votes. American Journal of Political Science 40 (1):194230.
Beckwith, K (2005) A common language of gender? Politics & Gender 1 (1):128137.
Berinsky, AJ (2006) American public opinion in the 1930s and 1940s: the analysis of quota-controlled sample survey data. Public Opinion Quarterly 70 (4):499529.
Berinsky, AJ (2009) In Time of War: Understanding American Public Opinion from World War II to Iraq. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Bonk, C (1988) The selling of the ‘gender gap’: the organizing role of feminism. In Mueller CM (ed.), The Politics of the Gender Gap: The Social Construction of Political Influence. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, pp. 82101.
Box-Steffensmeier, JM, De Boef, S Lin, T-M (2004) The dynamics of the partisan gender gap. American Political Science Review 98 (3):515528.
Brady, HE Sniderman, PM (1985) Attitude attribution: a group basis for political reasoning. American Political Science Review 79 (4):10611078.
Burden, BC (2008) The social roots of the partisan gender gap. Public Opinion Quarterly 72 (1):5575.
Campbell, A et al. (1980) The American Voter. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, Midway Reprint.
Carmines, EG Stimson, JA (1989) Issue Evolution: Race and the Transformation of American Politics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Carroll, SJ (1988) Women’s autonomy and the gender gap: 1980 and 1982. In Mueller CM (ed.), The Politics of the Gender Gap: The Social Construction of Political Influence. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, pp. 236257.
Carroll, SJ (2006) Voting choices: meet you at the gender gap. In Carroll SJ and Fox R (eds), Gender and Elections: Shaping the Future of American Politics. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 7496.
Chaney, CKR, Alvarez, M Nagler, J (1998) Explaining the gender gap in U.S. presidential elections, 1980–1992. Political Research Quarterly 51 (2):311339.
Clark, AK (2017) Updating the gender gap(s): a multilevel approach to what underpins changing cultural attitudes. Politics & Gender 13 (1):2656.
Clarke, HD et al. (2005) Men, women and the dynamics of presidential approval. British Journal of Political Science 35 (1):3151.
Conover, PJ (1988) Feminists and the gender gap. Journal of Politics 50 (4):9851010.
Converse, PE (1964) The nature of belief systems in mass publics. In Apter DE (ed.), Ideology and Discontent. New York: Free Press, pp. 206261.
Cook, EA Wilcox, C (1991) Feminism and the gender gap: a second look. Journal of Politics 53 (4):11111122.
Cook, EA, Jelen, TG Wilcox, C (1992) Between Two Absolutes: Public Opinion and the Politics of Abortion. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Costain, AM (1988) Women’s claims as a special interest. In Mueller CM (ed.), The Politics of the Gender Gap: The Social Construction of Political Influence. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, pp. 150172.
Deitch, C (1988) Sex differences in support for government spending. In Mueller CM (ed.), The Politics of the Gender Gap: The Social Construction of Political Influence. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, pp. 192216.
Delli Carpini, MX Keeter, S (1996) What Americans Know about Politics and Why it Matters. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
DiMaggio, P, Evans, J Bryson, B (1996) Have American’s social attitudes become more polarized? American Journal of Sociology 102 (3):690755.
Edlund, L Pande, R (2002) Why have women become left-wing? The political gender gap and the decline in marriage. Quarterly Journal of Economics 117 (3):917961.
Eichenberg, RC Stoll, RJ (2012) Gender difference or parallel publics? The dynamics of defense spending opinions in the United States, 1965–2007. Journal of Conflict Resolution 56 (2):331348.
Erikson, RS, MacKuen, M Stimson, JA (2002) The Macro Polity. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Fiorina, MP, Abrams, SJ Pope, JC (2011) Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America. 3rd ed. Boston, MA: Longman.
Fiske, ST, Lau, RR Smith, RA (1990) On the varieties and utilities of political expertise. Social Cognition 8 (1):3148.
Gillion, Daniel Q, Ladd, Jonathan M Meredith, Marc (2018) “Replication Data for: Party Polarization, Ideological Sorting and the Emergence of the U.S. Partisan Gender Gap”, https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/TIYCHO, Harvard Dataverse, V1, UNF:6:q0DSUacbw3/zpL8hwqREEg==
Goldin, C, Katz, LF Kuziemko, I (2006) The homecoming of American college women: the reversal of the college gender gap. The Journal of Economic Perspectives 20 (4):133156.
Green, DP, Palmquist, B Schickler, E (2002) Partisan Hearts and Minds: Political Parties and the Social Identity of Voters. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Hayes, D Guardino, M (2013) Influence from Abroad: Foreign Voices, the Media, and U.S. Public Opinion. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Huddy, L, Cassese, E Lizotte, M-K (2008a) Gender, public opinion, and political reasoning. In Wolbrecht C, Beckwith K and Baldez L (eds), Political Women and American Democracy. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 3149.
Huddy, L, Cassese, E Lizotte, M-K (2008b) Sources of political unity and disunity among women. In Whitaker LD (ed.), Voting the Gender Gap. Urbana, University of Illinois Press, pp. 141169.
Hutchings, VL et al. (2004) The compassion strategy: race and the gender gap in campaign 2000. Public Opinion Quarterly 68 (4):512541.
Inglehart, R (1977) Silent Revolution. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Inglehart, R Norris, P (2000) The developmental theory of the gender gap: women’s and men’s voting behavior in global perspective. International Political Science Review 21 (4):441463.
Inglehart, R Norris, P (2003) Rising Tide: Gender Equality and Cultural Change around the World. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Iversen, T Rosenbluth, F (2006) The political economy of gender: explaining cross-national variation in the gender division of labor and the gender voting gap. American Journal of Political Science 50 (1):119.
Iversen, T Rosenbluth, F (2010) Women, Work and Politics: The Comparative Political Economy. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Jennings, MK Niemi, RG (1981) Generations and Politics: A Panel Study of Young Adults and their Parents. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Karol, D (2009) Party Position Change in American Politics: Coalition Management. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Kaufmann, KM (2002) Culture wars, secular realignment, and the gender gap in party identification. Political Behavior 24 (3):283307.
Kaufmann, KM (2006) The gender gap. PS: Political Science & Politics 39 (3):447453.
Kaufmann, KM Petrocik, JR (1999) The changing politics of American men: understanding the sources of the gender gap. American Journal of Political Science 43 (3):864887.
Ladd, EC (1997) Media framing of the gender gap. In Norris P (ed.), Women, Media, and Politics. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 113128.
Layman, GC Carsey, TM (2006) Changing sides or changing minds? Party identification and policy preferences in the American electorate. American Journal of Political Science 50 (2):464–177.
Lenz, GS (2012) Follow the Leader? How Voters Respond to Politicians’ Performance and Policies. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Levendusky, M (2009) The Partisan Sort: How Liberals Became Democrats and Conservatives Became Republicans. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
MacKuen, MB, Erikson, RS Stimson, JA (1989) Macropartisanship. American Political Science Review 83 (4):11251142.
MacKuen, MB, Erikson, RS Stimson, JA (1992) Question wording and macropartisanship. American Political Science Review 86 (2):475486.
Mansbridge, JJ (1985) Myth and reality: the ERA and the gender gap in the 1980 election. Public Opinion Quarterly 49 (2):1641787.
Mansbridge, JJ (1986) Why We Lost the ERA. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Manza, J Brooks, C (1998) The gender gap in U.S. presidential elections: when? Why? Implications? American Journal of Sociology 103 (5):12351266.
McCarty, N, Poole, KT Rosenthal, H (2016) Polarized America: The Dance of Ideology and Unequal Riches. 2nd ed. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Miller, A (1988) Gender and the vote: 1984. In Mueller CM (ed.), The Politics of the Gender Gap: The Social Construction of Political Influence. Beverly Hills, CA: SAGE Publications, pp. 258282.
Mueller, CM (ed.) (1988) The Politics of the Gender Gap: The Social Construction of Political Influence. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Noel, H (2013) Political Ideologies and Political Parties in America. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Norrander, B (1997) The independence gap and the gender gap. Public Opinion Quarterly 61 (4):464476.
Norrander, B (1999) The evolution of the gender gap. Public Opinion Quarterly 63 (4):566576.
Norris, P (1988) The gender gap: a cross-national trend. In Mueller CM (eds), The Politics of the Gender Gap: The Social Construction of Political Influence. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, pp. 217234.
Norris, P (2003) The gender gap: old challenges, new approaches. In Carroll SJ (ed.), Women and American Politics: New Questions, New Directions. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 146170.
Price, V Zaller, J (1993) Who gets the news? Alternative measures of news reception and their implications for research. Public Opinion Quarterly 57 (2):133164.
Sapiro, V (2003) Theorizing gender in political psychology research. In Sears DO, Huddy L and Jervis R (eds), Voting the Gender Gap. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 601634.
Sapiro, V Canon, DT (2000) Race, gender, and the Clinton presidency. In Campbell C and Rockman BA (eds), The Clinton Legacy. New York: Chatham House, pp. 169199.
Sapiro, V Conover, PJ (1997) The variable gender basis of electoral politics: gender and context in the 1992 US election. British Journal of Political Science 27 (4):497523.
Sapiro, V Shames, SL (2010) The gender basis of public opinion. In Norrander Barbara and Wilcox C (eds), Understanding Public Opinion. 3rd ed. Washington, DC: CQ Press, pp. 524.
Seltzer, RA, Newman, J Leighton, MV (1997) Sex as a Political Variable: Women as Candidates and Voters in U.S. Elections. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
Shapiro, RY Mahajan, H (1986) Gender differences in policy preferences: a summary of trends from the 1960s to the 1980s. Public Opinion Quarterly 50 (1):4261.
Smith, TW (1984) The polls: gender and attitudes toward violence. Public Opinion Quarterly 48 (1):384396.
Winter, NJG (2008) Dangerous Frames. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Wirls, D (1986) Reinterpreting the gender gap. Public Opinion Quarterly 50 (3):316330.
Wolbrecht, C (2000) The Politics of Women’s Rights: Parties, Positions, and Change. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Zaller, JR (1992) The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Zaller, JR (1994) Elite leadership of mass opinion: new evidence from the Gulf War. In Lance Bennet W and Paletz DL (eds), Taken by Storm: The Media, Public Opinion, and U.S. Foreign Policy in the GulfWar. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, pp. 186209.
Zaller, JR (1996) The myth of massive media impact revived. In Mutz DC, Sniderman PM and Brody RA (eds), Political Persuasion and Attitude Change . Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, pp. 1778.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

British Journal of Political Science
  • ISSN: 0007-1234
  • EISSN: 1469-2112
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-political-science
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Type Description Title
PDF
Supplementary materials

Gillion et al. supplementary material
Appendix

 PDF (578 KB)
578 KB
UNKNOWN
Supplementary materials

Gillion et al. Dataset
Dataset

 Unknown

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed