Accuracy in Media

According to the website “Women’s Voices Women Vote,” 20 million unmarried women did not vote in the presidential election of 2004. Why? Because, among other reasons, they do not feel their vote will make a difference. 

The most under-explored, critical and essential demographic group over the next couple of elections will be single, unmarried women. That is part of the message from Kellyanne Conway, co-author of What Women Really Want: How American Women Are Quietly Erasing Political, Racial, Class and Religious Lines to Change the Way We Live. Conway, the president of the polling company Women Trend, is a noted pollster. She spoke recently at Accuracy in Media’s monthly luncheon.

“I’m not a plastic surgeon, I’m a pollster,” Conway said.  “I don’t tell you what your nose could look like, I tell you what it does look like.”


She said for promotional purposes, she and her co-author added questions in their two major national polls such as whether you would rather have more sleep than sex. Although there is an apparent gender gap between women and men on this particular question, what is more important is the voting gap between married and unmarried women in the U.S. Conway assured the audience that her book is not anti-men.

Conway said single women don’t vote, not because they don’t want to, it’s because they don’t see a reason to. But who can blame them when politicians make the mistake of applying a generational compression to single women. 

An example of generational compression Conway shared was that in one neighborhood one 45-year-old woman already has grandchildren, whereas another 45-year-old woman in that same neighborhood has one child in grade school and another one on the way.  And yet another in that same neighborhood is a single, working woman living with a litter of cats.  Seemingly there is very little overlap between these groups but politicians group them all together because politicians target people first by gender and then by age, Conway said.

She said in order to get more women to vote, politicians need to give them more opportunities to obtain what they ultimately want: “marriage, munchkins and mutual funds.”  You can give it to them in whatever order you want, but make it available to them, Conway said.

The time to reach out to women is before they are mothers, she said.  Because the moment someone makes a commitment to become a parent they begin to think differently.  They start to think about how safe the neighborhood is that they live in and how good the school district in their area is.

Traditionally, unmarried women have voted more Democratic because there is a lack of security in their lives which they look to the government to supply, said Conway.  But if you give women an opportunity to obtain marriage, munchkins and mutual funds they will become more conservative voters.

Women in this country are staying single longer not because they don’t cherish marriage but because they do, said Conway.  Single women plan and fully expect to have children. They want to wait until they are more settled and mature socially and even financially. Conway said Republicans should cater to unmarried women in the U.S. because they are more likely to be first time home-owners and significant investors. 

For many women being a small business owner is their American dream.  In the last few years there has been an explosion of small business owners in this country, particularly among women, said Conway.  Forty-six percent of women surveyed for her book said they would like to own their own businesses some day. 

Conway said these same women don’t fit the stereotype of being focused on issues such as abortion and gun control.  But in reality they are focused on issues that will affect their small business ventures, such as increased taxes.


Another stereotype about women voters that Conway dismissed was that women vote for women based solely on gender. If they did, she said Elizabeth Dole would be president. 

When asked if she thought a woman would be on the ticket in the upcoming presidential election, Conway said, “I don’t really care as long as she is qualified.” Conway’s message seemed to resonate with the audience, which gave her a very enthusiastic reception.

You can purchase an autographed copy of Kellyanne Conway’s What Women Really Want: How American Women Are Quietly Erasing Political, Racial, Class and Religious Lines to Change the Way We Live online at shopAIM.org.




Ready to fight back against media bias?
Join us by donating to AIM today.

Comments

Comments are turned off for this article.