Skip to main content Accessibility help

The Gender Gap Is a Race Gap: Women Voters in US Presidential Elections

  • Jane Junn and Natalie Masuoka


Scholarship on women voters in the United States has focused on the gender gap, showing that, since the 1980s, women are more likely to vote for Democratic Party candidates than men. The persistence of the gender gap has nurtured the conclusion that women are Democrats. This article presents evidence upending that conventional wisdom. It analyzes data from the American National Election Study to demonstrate that white women are the only group of female voters who support Republican Party candidates for president. They have done so by a majority in all but 2 of the last 18 elections. The relevance of race for partisan choice among women voters is estimated with data collected in 2008, 2012, and 2016, and the significance of being white is identified after accounting for political party identification and other predictors.



Hide All

Data replication sets are available in Harvard Dataverse at



Hide All
American National Election Studies. 2016. University of Michigan and Stanford University: Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR).
Andersen, Kristi. 1996. After Suffrage: Women in Partisan and Electoral Politics before the New Deal. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Barnes, Tiffany and Cassese, Erin. 2017. “American Party Women: A Look at the Gender Gap within Parties.” Political Research Quarterly 70(1): 127–41.
Barreto, Matt, Frasure-Yokley, Lorrie, Vargas, Edward and Wong, Janelle. 2019. Collaborative Multiracial Post-Election Survey. Los Angeles: UCLA.
Bejarano, Christina E. 2013. The Latino Gender Gap in U.S. Politics. New York: Routledge.
Bejarano, Christina, Manzano, Sylvia and Montoya, Celeste. 2011. “Tracking the Latino Gender Gap: Gender Attitudes across Sex, Border, and Generation.” Politics & Gender 7(4): 521–49.
Beltran, Cristina. 2010. The Trouble with Unity: Latino Politics and the Creation of Identity. New York: Oxford University Press.
Bowler, Shaun and Segura, Gary. 2011. The Future Is Ours. Washington, DC: CQ Press.
Box-Steffensmeier, Janet, DeBoef, Suzanne and Lin, Tse-Min. 2004. “The Dynamics of the Partisan Gender Gap.” American Political Science Review 98: 515–28.
Brown, Nadia E. 2014. Sisters in the Statehouse: Black Women and Legislative Decision-Making. New York: Oxford University Press.
Campbell, Angus, Converse, Philip, Miller, Warren and Stokes, Donald. 1960. The American Voter. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Carroll, Susan J. 2006. Gender and Elections; Shaping the Future of U.S. Elections. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Carter, Niambi M. and Pérez, Efrén O.. 2016. “Race and Nation: How Racial Hierarchy Shapes National Attachments.” Political Psychology 37(4): 497513.
Cassese, Erin C. and Barnes, Tiffany D.. 2018. “Reconciling Sexism and Women’s Support for Republican Candidates: A Look at Gender, Class, and Whiteness in the 2012 and 2016 Presidential Races.” Political Behavior 124.
Cassese, Erin, Barnes, Tiffany and Branton, Regina. 2015. “Racializing Gender: Public Opinion at the Intersection.” Politics & Gender 11: 126.
Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP). 2017. Gender Differences in Voter Turnout. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University.
Cohen, Cathy. 2003. “A Portrait of Continuing Marginality: The Study of Women of Color in American Politics.” In Women and American Politics: New Questions, New Directions, ed. Carroll, Susan J., 190213. New York: Oxford University Press.
Collins, Patricia Hill. 1990. Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. Boston: UnwinHyman.
Conover, Patricia. 1988. “Feminists and the Gender Gap.” Journal of Politics 50(4): 9851010.
Corder, J. Kevin and Wolbrecht, Christina. 2016. Counting Women’s Ballots: Female Voters from Suffrage through the New Deal. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Crenshaw, Kimberle. 1989. “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory, and Antiracist Politics.” University of Chicago Legal Forum 140: 139–67.
Dawson, Michael. 2003. Black Visions: The Roots of Contemporary African American Political Ideologies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Dittmar, Kelly. 2017. Finding Gender in Election 2016: Lessons from Presidential Gender Watch. New Brunswick, NJ: Barbara Lee Family Foundation & CAWP, Rutgers University.
Dolan, Kathleen. 2004. Voting for Women: How the Public Evaluates Women Candidates. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
“Exit Poll Results: How Different Groups Voted in Alabama.” 2017. Washington Post, December 13.
Frasure, Lorrie Ann and Williams, Linda Faye. 2009. “Racial, Ethnic, and Gender Disparities in Political Participation and Civic Engagement.” In Emerging Intersections: Race, Class, and Gender in Theory, Policy, and Practice, eds. Dill, Bonnie T. et al., 203–28. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Frasure Yokley, Lorrie. 2018. “Choosing the Velvet Glove: Women Voters, Ambivalent Sexism, and Vote Choice in 2016.” Journal of Race, Ethnicity and Politics 3(1): 325.
Frymer, Paul. 2010. Uneasy Alliances: Race and Party Competition in America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Garcia Bedolla, Lisa. 2005. Fluid Borders: Latino Power, Identity, and Politics in Los Angeles. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Garcia Bedolla, Lisa and Scola, Becki. 2006. “Finding Intersection: Race, Class and Gender in the 2003 California Recall Election.” Politics & Gender 2(1): 527.
Gay, Claudine and Tate, Katherine. 1998. “Doubly Bound: The Impact of Gender and Race on the Politics of Black Women.” Political Psychology 19(1): 169–84.
Hancock, Ange-Marie. 2007. “When Multiplication Doesn’t Equal Quick Addition: Examining Intersectionality as a Research Paradigm.” Perspectives on Politics 5(1): 6369.
Hancock, Ange-Marie. 2015. Intersectionality: An Intellectual History. New York: Oxford University Press.
Hardy-Fanta, Carol. 1993. Latina Politics, Latino Politics: Gender, Culture and Political Participation in Boston. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Hardy-Fanta, Carol, Dianne Pinderhughes, Pei-te Lien and Marie Sierra, Christine. 2016. Contested Transformation: Race, Gender, and Political Leadership in 21st Century America. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Harris-Perry, Melissa. 2011. Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Huddy, Leonie, Cassese, Erin and Lizotte, Mary-Kate. 2008. “Sources of Political Unity and Disunity among Women: Placing the Gender Gap in Perspective.” In Voting the Gender Gap, ed. Whitaker, Lois Duke, 141–69. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Huddy, Leonie and Terkildsen, Nayda. 1993. “Gender Stereotypes and the Perception of Male and Female Candidates.” American Journal of Political Science 37(1): 119–47.
Jordan-Zachery, J. S. 2007. “Am I a Black Woman or a Woman Who Is Black? A Few Thoughts on the Meaning of Intersectionality.” Politics & Gender 3(2): 254–63.
Junn, Jane. 2017. “The Trump Majority: White Women and the Making of Female Voters.” Politics, Groups, and Identities 5: 2.
Kaufmann, Karen M., Petrocik, John R. and Shaw, Daron R.. 2005. Unconventional Wisdom: Facts and Myths about American Voters. New York: Oxford University Press.
Kinder, Donald and Dale-Riddle, Allison. 2012. The End of Race: Obama, 2008, and Racial Politics in America. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Lien, Pei-te. 2001. The Making of Asian Americans through Political Participation. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Masuoka, Natalie, Han, Hahrie, Leung, Vivien and Zheng, Bang Quan. 2018. “Understanding the Asian American Vote in the 2016 Election.” Journal of Race, Ethnicity and Politics 3(1): 189212.
Masuoka, Natalie and Junn, Jane. 2013. The Politics of Belonging: Race, Public Opinion and Immigration. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Norrander, Barbara. 2008. “The History of the Gender Gap.” In Voting the Gender Gap, ed. Whitaker, Lois Duke, 9–32. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Paquette, Danielle. 2016. “The Unexpected Voters behind the Widest Gender Gap in Recorded Electoral History.” Washington Post, November 9, 2016.
Pew Research Center. 2018. Wide Gender Gap, Growing Educational Divide in Voters, March.
Phillips, Christian. 2018. “Wanting and Weighting: White Women and Descriptive Representation in the 2016 Presidential Election.” Journal of Race, Ethnicity and Politics 3(1): 2951.
Prestage, Jewell. 1977. “Black Women State Legislators: A Profile.” In A Portrait of Marginality: The Political Behavior of the African Woman, eds. Githens, Marianne and Prestage, Jewell, 401–18. New York: David McKay.
Sanbonmatsu, Kira. 2010. “Organizing American Politics, Organizing Gender.” In The Oxford Handbook of American Elections and Political Behavior, ed. Leighley, Jan E., 415–32. New York: Oxford University Press.
Sapiro, Virginia and Conover, Pamela. 1997. “The Variable Gender Basis of Electoral Politics: Gender and Context in the 1992 US Election.” British Journal of Political Science 27: 497523.
Simien, Evelyn. 2006. Black Feminist Voices in Politics. Buffalo: State University Press of New York.
Tate, Katherine. 1993. From Protest to Politics: The New Black Voters in the American Electorate. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Tesler, Michael. 2016. Post-Racial or Most-Racial? Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Tien, Charles. 2017. “The Racial Gap in Voting among Women: White Women, Racial Resentment, and Support for Trump.” New Political Science, October.
Valentino, Nicholas, Wayne, Carly and Oceno, Marzia. 2018. “Mobilizing Sexism: The Interaction of Emotion and Gender Attitudes in the 2016 US Presidential Election.” Public Opinion Quarterly 82(1): 213–35.
Welch, Susan. 1977. “Women as Political Animals? A Test of Some Explanations for Male-Female Political Participation Differences.” American Journal of Political Science 21: 711–30.
Wong, Janelle S., Karthick Ramakrishnan, S., Lee, Taeku and Junn, Jane. 2011. Asian American Political Participation: Emerging Constituents and Their Political Identities. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Junn and Masuoka supplementary material
Figure A3

 Word (69 KB)
69 KB
Supplementary materials

Junn and Masuoka supplementary material
Figure A2

 Word (66 KB)
66 KB
Supplementary materials

Junn and Masuoka supplementary material
Figure A1

 Word (133 KB)
133 KB
Supplementary materials

Junn and Masuoka supplementary material
Figure A4

 Word (67 KB)
67 KB
Supplementary materials

Junn and Masuoka Dataset


The Gender Gap Is a Race Gap: Women Voters in US Presidential Elections

  • Jane Junn and Natalie Masuoka


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