NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 31, 2008

Over the last 40 years, some 16 million men -- a population roughly the size of Michigan and Indiana combined -- have stopped voting; that's a hole 5 times the size of George W. Bush's margin of victory in 2004.  How did it get so bad, asks Newsweek?

Since 1964, when a record 72 percent of voting-age men and 67 percent of voting-age women pulled the lever for president, participation rates have tumbled for both sexes -- but far more steeply for men.  By 1980, civics-class dropouts had flipped the gender gap.  This November, men are again the odds-on favorite to no-show at the polls, says Newsweek.

Some politicos say that the Democratic Party has suffered the most from the male malaise, since its base of white working-class men has been eroding.  But the shift cuts against the GOP, too.  Strong female majorities and subpar male turnout helped elect Bill Clinton to two terms.

Apathy, anger and inattentiveness have all contributed to a decline in voting among both genders. But some factors are almost exclusively a guy thing, says Newsweek:

Why don't more men vote?

  • Men are less likely than women to attend church, consume news, trust authority and believe that people are generally good.
  • Higher education is the top predictor of voting, and increasingly men aren't as schooled as women.
  • In recent decades, male enrollment has dropped below that of women at the undergraduate level.
  • Of the 5.3 million convicted felons barred from voting in this country, more than 80 percent are men.

Moreover, it's just a guy thing, says Newsweek; mostly, a single guy thing.  Married men are not only more likely to vote than their bachelor counterparts, but they are frequently swayed by their wives about who gets their votes.

Source: Tony Dokoupil, "The Vanishing Male Voter," Newsweek, October 27, 2008.

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