Unmarried women can have an enormous influence on American politics, election outcomes and policy debates—when they register, turn out and act on their values.
Unmarried women, people of color and millennials (age 18-35) now make up the majority (56.7 percent) of the U.S. population. Unmarried women make up one of the largest shares of this Rising American Electorate (RAE).
Unmarried women are at least 25 percent of the eligible voters in every competitive state.
There is a significant gap between the number of unmarried women who can vote and the number who do vote.
About one in three unmarried women is not eligible to vote.
Why does that matter? Because unmarried women vote differently from married women. Unmarried women tend to vote for more progressive candidates—candidates who want to make progress on the economic issues that affect unmarried women’s lives, such as the gender pay gap, the minimum wage, and paid sick leave.
In fact, the marriage gap—the difference between unmarried and married women in registration and voting behaviors—plays an even bigger role in our elections than the much-discussed “gender gap.”
In the 2012 election, for example, the marriage gap dwarfed the gender gap; unmarried women supported President Obama by a 67%-31% margin, compared to married women who supported Mitt Romney by a 53%-46% margin. And that wasn’t a meaningless difference, either; if unmarried women had voted the same way as their married counterparts, Mitt Romney would have won in 2012.
In the 2012 election, if only married women had voted, or if unmarried women had voted the same way as married women, President Obama would not have been reelected.