Liberals count on “suburban women” to carry Biden to a victory denied to Hillary Clinton four years ago. The theory is that many of the suburban women who voted for Trump last time have changed their minds and are pulling the lever against him this time.
That false prediction is a stepchild of the gender gap theory of politics which was all the rage in the media in the 1980s as they tried, unsuccessfully, to oust Ronald Reagan from the White House. Reagan was supported by men even more than by women, and supposedly that gap in support was going to be his downfall.
It was not. Reagan rode to a landslide reelection victory of historic proportions in 1984, carrying even the liberal backyards of Massachusetts, New York, and California. The experts crawled back under their rocks after the crash of their predictions about the impact of a gender gap.
Polling married couples about what color home they would like to buy would result in many differences in opinion between husband and wife. But, as with voting, when it comes time to buy a home they agree and make the decision with one voice.
Polls tighten, as they did in 2016 around this time, because married couples decide not to cancel out each other’s vote. This is not because of new information, or because millions of people are independently changing their minds, or because of how the candidates performed at a presidential debate.
This is because married couples begin deciding in earnest about the election and what it means for the future of their children and grandchildren. This is because families seriously reflect on the freedom and prosperity they have enjoyed until now, and start really deciding which candidate will continue that for their next generation.
Married couples typically vote for the same candidate in elections, and it would be silly for them to go to the trouble of voting just to cancel each other out. The strong support for Trump by men has the effect of pulling married women to his side despite all the media bias.
Studies show that women, as a group, are more influenced by the media and thus have been pulled away from supporting Trump by the slanted reporting against him. That has artificially depressed Trump’s approval rating throughout his presidency, particularly among women.
But when it finally comes time to vote, serious conversations begin between husband and wife. It becomes more like their joint decisions to buy a home, raise a child, and plan for the long-term future.
A response to a pollster is a decision that people make willy-nilly in reply to a surprise phone call. It can embody an unhappiness at that time, or an opportunity merely to complain.
Earlier this month CNN gloated that, in its polling, women supported Biden over Trump by a 34-point margin. An average of many such polls showed a 25-point gender gap.
But those polling responses are not family decisions, as actual votes by married couples are. When married women actually cast their votes, they take into consideration how their husband is voting more than what CNN says.
Suburban women are unlikely to vote against their own husbands, and hence to predict an election outcome it is essential to focus on how suburban men will vote. They went big for Reagan in 1984, and then so did their wives.
A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll announced that although suburban women support Biden by 62% to 34%, suburban men support Trump by a landslide margin of 54% to 43%.
Suburban men and women are predominantly married, or else they would be living in cities. The tightening of the race occurs when the married couples realize that by voting for the same person they have an impact of 2 votes, but voting opposite each other is a waste of their time.
Feminists may hope that the suburban wives persuade their husbands how to vote, but that is not what happened in 2016 or prior elections. Instead, often husbands are more persuasive than the media in influencing their wives for whom to vote, leaving only the unmarried women with a gender gap voting against the Republican.
Trump nearly prevailed with married women in 2016, and there are more married women than the unmarried women who opposed him then and now. Today some explain Trump’s better polling among married women as being due to the issue of safety against crime, but that issue would matter as much to unmarried women.
Instead, it is the institution of marriage that enables Trump and other Republicans to continue winning despite the array of media and big money against them. Married men see through the liberal bias, and easily persuade their families to vote for Trump, too.
John and Andy Schlafly are sons of Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016) and lead the continuing Phyllis Schlafly Eagles organizations with writing and policy work.