NORTH ATLANTA, Ga. — Women have turned out in bigger numbers at the ballot box since the 1984 presidential election. The trend has grown to the point that The Brookings Institution calls 2020 the year of the woman voter.
“This is suggestive of one of the largest gender gaps in U.S. modern history,” said Audrey Haynes, a University of Georgia associate professor of political science.
The power that women bring to the polls can be found in a Kaiser Family Foundation study. In Georgia, during the 2018 midterms, more than 58-percent of eligible female voters cast a ballot, while male participation was at 53-percent. Similar gender gaps are found when the data is broken down by race/ethnicity and education level.
The intensity of female voters is not lost on the presidential candidates. The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll shows women leaning more toward Democrat Joe Biden by 23 points.
At a Pennsylvania rally in mid-October, President Trump asked female voters, “Will you please like me?”
Asking might not be enough. Haynes said women are keenly aware of the issues impacting them, such as tense negotiations between the White House and Congress over a second stimulus package as the pandemic continues.
“This would suggest to me, the likelihood of women, in general, particularly those who have been hit by the economic consequences, looking more toward the Democratic ticket,” Haynes said. “Many may have been in that area already, but now, may be more easily mobilized due to the intensity of their concern for their livelihoods. The stock market doing okay has little meaning for those who are unemployed or only marginally employed.”
As for those who are more secure in their economic situation, Haynes sees a potential divide.
“Depending on attitudes toward cultural and social issues, White women split their votes,” she said. “Trump has lost some of these women primarily due to the approach that he has taken to COVID-19 and his appearance of a lack of leadership and empathy on the domestic front.”
However, the “saving the suburbs” messaging from the president has resonated with Trump’s base.
“There are women who support Trump,” Haynes added. “They are primarily White, some are educated, and some work. But most care about particular issues, such as abortion or have very strong partisan roots in the Republican Party, and strong beliefs in terms of culture issues, generally. Some are primarily focused on economic beliefs while others may be more focused on law and order.”
The coronavirus recession has hit women hardest in a variety of different ways. Women of color, for example, have the added fight for justice among the racial unrest of 2020. But when it comes to the primary causes of the shecession — the economic downturn and global pandemic — a September study by The Commonwealth Fund revealed who women trust to address the public health needs and economic costs of COVID-19.
Thousands of women were questioned about the country’s current crisis and the presidential race. The survey of likely women voters found 61-percent trust Biden, over 34-percent who trust Trump. The numbers were similar on the issues of protecting coverage for preexisting conditions and lowering healthcare costs.
In Georgia, the survey asked male and female likely voters who would be better at handling public health needs and economic costs from the pandemic. Biden came out on top, 60-35, over Trump.
The study by the Commonwealth Fund included interviews with more than 7,000 voters across the country and carried a margin of error of plus or minus 1.7 percentage points. For its state of Georgia survey, which included a sampling of 417 likely voters, the margin of error was plus or minus 6.1 percent.
Candidates for public office and their representatives were contacted and offered the chance to speak to local female voters. Some responded. Here are their replies:
President Donald Trump, Republican
“President Trump is delivering on an array of issues that really matter to women. President Trump is rebuilding our economy and restoring jobs, defending our police to ensure safe communities, prioritizing education and school choice, strengthening our national security, and even brokering peace in the Middle East. While Joe Biden seeks to tax us into oblivion and regulate every aspect of our lives, women across the nation can trust in President Trump to put them and their families first.” — Courtney Parella, Donald Trump Campaign
Vice President Joe Biden, Democrat
“Women in this country, particularly women of color, have never had a fair shot, and the COVID-19 pandemic only further underscored these inequities. To make matters worse, we currently have a president who not only belittles and ridicules women publicly and privately, but one who also seeks to undermine our basic constitutional rights. Joe Biden has a plan to ensure women have access to comprehensive, affordable health care, including a plan to reduce the unacceptably high maternal mortality rate. We know Joe will tackle the gender wage gap and wage discrimination, and ensure that every working mother has access to quality, affordable childcare.” – Jaclyn Rothenberg, Biden for President Georgia Director of Communications
Georgia Democratic Party
“This year, when Georgia Democrats flip the State House, gain two Democratic Senate seats, and deliver the Biden/Harris ticket 16 electoral votes for Georgia, we will ensure women have equal pay for equal work, make childcare and education adequate and affordable, protect health care and coverage for pre-existing conditions, and defend women’s bodily autonomy and reproductive freedoms.” — Maggie Chambers, Communications director
U.S. Senate candidate Sen. David Perdue, Republican
“During the COVID-19 crisis, Sen. David Perdue reached out to over a million Georgians to listen and help them access critical support. What he heard in many of those conversations is how this pandemic presented unique challenges for women and families. All parents are concerned about keeping their children safe, defeating COVID-19, and getting back to normal life as soon as possible. Senator Perdue introduced the SCHOOL Act to provide protective equipment for students and help local school systems safely reopen or learn virtually until the community is ready. Before this virus, Senator Perdue helped lead the greatest economic turnaround in U.S. history that created 7.5 million new jobs and helped 6.6 million people pull themselves out of poverty, many of which were single-parent mothers.” – Casey Black, spokeswoman for Senator Perdue
U.S. Senate candidate Jon Ossoff, Democrat
“Working moms have had a terrible time during this pandemic and recession, and our government hasn’t provided the relief and support they need. Congress didn’t provide critical support for school districts that needed help re-opening or launching effective remote learning programs, nor did Congress provide emergency childcare credits to help working families access childcare while schools have been closed. Women have been laid off at higher rates and unfairly forced out of the workforce due to lack of safe childcare. We should have already had another round of direct, federal relief months ago to help families and women-owned small businesses get by.”
U.S. Senate candidate U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, Republican
“Over the last several months, I have worked hand-in-hand with President Trump to provide much-needed relief to American families, small businesses, health care professionals, and states and localities. Through the CARES Act, we created the Paycheck Protection Program, which has ensured female entrepreneurs, contractors, and small business owners can weather this crisis. Through the relief I supported, Georgia families were sent economic impact payments, providing them supplemental income in the early days of the virus. Further, I supported provisions that allowed for family leave, permitting family members to take paid and unpaid time off to care for sick loved ones. To ensure Georgians can get back to work and to support the services they depend on to do so, I voted for grants to female-owned business center programs, funds for child care centers, and relief funds for the Headstart Program. Finally, reopening our schools is a critical component of getting mothers back to work, which is why I’ve continually advocated for safely sending our kids back to school. As we continue to recover from the devastating effects of COVID-19, I look forward to continue working for every Georgian.”
U.S. Senate candidate Rev. Raphael Warnock, Democrat
“Georgians deserve a senator who believes essential workers should be paid an essential wage, who will fight for expanded access to affordable, quality healthcare, and who knows that women deserve equal pay for equal work…We are the richest nation in the world, but you wouldn’t see that when you consider the number of women who died trying to bring children into the world. Black women, disproportionately, make up Georgia’s high maternal mortality statistics. I will fight to ensure mothers and babies thrive in our state.”
Fulton County Republican Party
“The Republican Party can more adequately help women handle the pandemic by improving the supply chain and logistics for everyday products. As a mother and wife, I’m responsible for ensuring my family has the supplies they need to thrive. Forty percent of households are headed by women. Second Amendment protections and support for law enforcement are vital for the protection of our family. The Republican Party makes national and personal security a priority. That alone is enough to push women towards voting Republican.” — Kaaryn Walker, secretary of Georgia’s 6th Congressional District Republican Party
Fulton County Democratic Party
“Democrats support aggressive and immediate COVID-19 relief policies to expand unemployment insurance and paycheck protection programs as well as impose eviction moratoriums across the state. Women are experiencing higher job and business losses and are at a higher risk of losing their homes during this health crisis. Democrats support expanding access to affordable pre-K and early childhood education programs, as well as other affordable childcare options.” — Lauren Higdon, Communications chair
DeKalb County Republican Party
“Our support for President Trump is stronger than ever before, but women voters are not a monolithic group but share a common value of protecting lives and livelihoods in a number of ways. For some, that means preserving law and order in our communities, and for others having school choice where they determine the best educational fit for their children. President Trump’s concern for how our country supports working and entrepreneurial women and their families is admirable and actionable. A lower corporate tax rate paired with child/dependent tax credits only puts money back into women’s pocketbooks.” — Marci McCarthy, vice-chairman Communications, DeKalb County GOP
DeKalb County Democratic Party
“The Democratic Party will lessen the impact of the pandemic and the recession by implementing the outlined policies: Get a national movement and organization to control the pandemic by providing additional money for essential workers, which primarily are women. Provide sufficient funds to make our schools safe. This will allow children to return to school which will lessen the strain on women who are often the primary person responsible for making sure that their children participate in online learning. Ensure that legislation is in place that allows women to make the decisions of what they do with their own bodies. Provide an increase in the minimum wage which will increase the income of many families out of poverty. Ensure that health coverage is available for everyone. This will increase the life span of women by covering physical and other medical coverage related to pregnancy. Provide additional funds for home ownership and education, thus improving the lives of women.” — Karen Davenport, DeKalb County Dems GOTV Committee chair
Andrea Johnson, Republican for Georgia House District 79
“Mothers, female employees, and female entrepreneurs are suffering greatly due to the harsh impact the pandemic has had on business. Stay at home moms are impacted too, as their household income is dependent on their husband’s jobs and ability to provide for their families. It is highly important to keep taxes low on all citizens and businesses in our community in order to ensure that the economy recovers so that women and men can return to work and live prosperous and happy lives.”
Representative Mike Wilensky, Democrat For Georgia House District 79
“As your state representative, I have continuously fought for women and considered the impact my votes at the State Capitol will have. There are a large percentage of women who work in the education field. This past year I fought to protect teachers and their pay by voting against the $1 billion in cuts to our education system. Also, I was the only male that spoke out on the House Floor against HB 481, the fetal heartbeat bill. A woman’s medical decisions should be between her and her doctor. I will continue to fight for equal pay, fair treatment in the workplace, affordable childcare, and increasing paid maternity leave. In addition, there are a large percentage of women who work in the medical field. I will continue to support legislation that eases the burdens put on healthcare providers instead of continuing to slash funding. I will make sure those in the medical field get the infrastructure, technology, and PPE they need. I will continue to be vocal about expanding Medicaid, which will cost less and cover more people than the current waivers. It is the fiscally responsible decision and would also bring at least 50,000 new jobs to Georgia. The Democratic party has consistently fought for women to make their own medical decisions, equal pay, affordable childcare, increasing paid maternity leave, fair treatment in the workplace, and Medicaid expansion.”