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Women’s voting gaps shrink, but not as much as they have in previous years

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When it comes to civic engagement, women continue to outpace men.

The gender gap in political participation – particularly in civic leadership – has been obvious since at least 1970, when data first began to be collected, a new report published Tuesday by the Pew Research Center finds.

Today, just 42 percent of American adults say they “usually or always” vote in presidential election years, compared with 64 percent who say they “usually or always” vote in midterm elections. But recent data on voting age women show that women continue to outpace men in terms of civic engagement, though not by as much as they did in previous years.

Among all adult women, 71 percent said they always or usually vote, compared with 62 percent of male respondents. That slight difference matches the gap found in 2014, and is actually a bit wider than in 2008, when a similar survey found that 62 percent of female respondents said they voted compared with 61 percent of male respondents.

The largest gap remains between 18-29 year-olds, who are younger than men, and people in their 30s. In 2016, 84 percent of younger women were registered to vote, compared with 82 percent of men. That gap has narrowed slightly over the last four years, from 83 percent among 18-29 year-olds to 83 percent among 30-44 year-olds. But when it comes to voting for president, younger women outnumber men by 1 percentage point (46 percent to 45 percent).

What’s happened in recent years in terms of the turnout gap for both men and women varies widely by party. Compared with a survey conducted in 2012, the Republican party has seen its youth vote drop significantly, particularly among those between the ages of 18 and 29. In 2012, the percentage of young Republicans who said they were registered to vote stood at 59 percent, compared with 44 percent today.

(The survey was conducted in February, before the release of the first women’s debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and was previously reported by Vox.)

At the same time, young Democratic primary voters turned out to be substantially more likely to say they were registered to vote than young Republicans, and this demographic gap has widened since 2012.

And in the midterms, the gender gap for women has been even wider, with the share of women who say they vote in midterm elections being double that of men. Among all women, 72 percent said they voted in the 2018 midterm election, compared with 47 percent of men. This is the largest gap in four years, and compares with the 65 percent of women who said they voted in 2014.

For comparison, the gap was just 7 percentage points in 2014, and 18 points in 2010.

The gender gap for women to a similar extent stood at 39 percentage points in the 2016 presidential election. This year, the Pew study noted that the Democratic party made considerable gains among young women voters in the 2018 midterm elections. Indeed, since the party’s historic victory in the 2016 presidential election, Democratic-leaning women have dramatically flipped the gender gap as well, adding 27 percentage points compared with 2004.

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