POLITICS

How Much Do Identities Like Gender Matter To Voters? Depends On The Voter.

Female Democrats are likelier than female Republicans to feel a sense of unity with other women.

In the weeks following a presidential election, political analysis often turns into playing with blocs, segmenting the electorate into the women’s vote, the Latino vote, the youth vote and so on. This is, of course, an inherent oversimplification: Every voter has multiple, overlapping demographic and political identities.

Those identities, as a new HuffPost/YouGov survey finds, matter much more to some people than they do to others.

Some female voters, for instance, feel a strong sense of kinship with other women, while others consider gender basically irrelevant. And often, there are marked partisan differences in which facets of identity voters find to be most important.

Partisanship itself is a powerful uniting factor. Among voters who identify with one of the parties, 53% said they share a lot of common interests and concerns with others in their party. That’s more than 20 percentage points higher than the share who expressed similar feelings about any of six other groupings ― gender, age, race, religion, location and finances ― included in the survey. Democrats and Republicans were about equally likely to express a sense of partisan kinship. 

Overall, 36% of female voters and one-quarter of male voters said they share a lot of common interests and concerns with others of the same gender.

Democratic female voters were the most likely to see gender as a meaningful grouping: 45% said they shared a lot of common interests and concerns based on gender. Just 23% of Republican female voters, and fewer than one-third of male voters in either party, said the same.

Results of a HuffPost/YouGov survey on common interests and identity.
Results of a HuffPost/YouGov survey on common interests and identity.

Women, as a whole, have edged toward the Democratic Party in recent years ― which suggests one reason that female Republicans might not be as likely to see other women as kindred spirits.

Female Democrats and Republicans, political scientist Samara Klar wrote in 2018, “do not hold a common understanding of what it means to be a woman” ― meaning that, rather than stoking a bipartisan consensus around gender, talking about gender issues can actually exacerbate the mistrust between the women in the opposing party. That year, the discrepancy was particularly visible in reactions to the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. 

As we noted at the time, many Democratic women personally identified with Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault. Ford’s experience, one woman polled said, “is an amplified version of what every woman experiences throughout their entire lives.” But women across the aisle largely didn’t share those sentiments, instead emphasizing other aspects of their identity. Kavanaugh “is a Christian man and a conservative,” one female Trump voter noted at the time. “I am a Christian and conservative too.” 

Gender isn’t the only factor to interplay with political identity this way. As the HuffPost/YouGov survey shows, there are similar partisan divides when voters are asked about the kinship they feel with others who share their religious beliefs or their financial situations. 

About one-third of voters say they share a lot of common interests and concerns with others who have the same religious beliefs. Among Protestant voters, that number rises to 53%, and among those who are self-identified born-again Christians, it’s 61%. But that sense of identity isn’t equally distributed along partisan lines. Nearly three-quarters of Protestant GOP voters say they have common cause with others who share their faith, while fewer than half of their Democratic counterparts say the same.

Thirty-five percent of Democratic voters say they share common ground with people who have about the same amount of money as they do, while just 18% of Republican voters say the same ― a gap that persists regardless of income level.

Voters’ feelings of commonality along other lines don’t necessarily show the same political divides. Republicans and Democrats were about equally likely, for instance, to say they share interests and concerns with others in their age group. 

Yet demographic factors have “increasingly become intertwined with politics,” as The New York Times’ Emily Badger and Quoctrung Bui wrote two years ago, and are increasingly sorted along political lines. That may leave members of each party with fewer other commonalities to bridge that divide.

Use the widget below to further explore the results of the HuffPost/YouGov survey, using the menu at the top to select survey questions and the buttons at the bottom to filter the data by subgroups:

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Nov. 11-14 among U.S. registered voters, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the population.

HuffPost has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some but not all potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate.