In just under a year voters head to the polls to elect a new president. Last month, LIFETIME Television launched Every Woman Counts - a twelve-month campaign aimed at bringing women's concerns to the foreground and encouraging women's full participation at the ballot box. Given that women make up a large percentage of undecided voters, it is wise to pay attention to the gender gap since women voters can provide a critical margin of victory when the presidential race heats up.
Since 1980, the gender gap has been evident in every Presidential election. According to Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), a gender gap in voting refers to "a difference between the percentage of women and the percentage of men voting for a given candidate, generally the winning candidate. Even when women and men favor the same candidate, they may do so by different margins, resulting in the gender gap".
In 2000, the gender gap was 10 percentage points, with 43 percent of women versus 53 percent of men voting for George Bush.
In 2004, the gender gap was 7 percentage points, with 48 percent of women versus 55 percent of men voting to re-elect President Bush.
In 2007, the results of a nationally representative poll conducted last month by Lifetime Networks indicate that 77 percent of women are not yet committed to any candidate, and 82 percent of women are definitely or probably voting in the 2008 Presidential election. Of those self-identified Democratic women who are committed to a candidate, Hillary Clinton leads with 70 percent of the votes, followed by Barack Obama with 16 percent. Of the self-identified Republican women who are committed to a candidate, Rudy Giuliani leads with 22 percent of the votes, followed by Mike Huckabee with 20 percent, and Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson tied with 12 percent.
The reasons women gave for not casting a ballot in 2004 varied - first was a busy schedule; followed by apathy or indifference (that their vote would not make a difference); and finally inadequate information about the candidates or the issues.
The issues of concern to women voters range from domestic abuse, child-care and early childhood education, to pay equity and women's health.
The goal of Lifetime's campaign is to address these issues and to ensure that women turn out at the ballot boxes. Every Woman Counts not only encourages women to register and vote, but also encourages women to run for public office and guarantees that issues important to them are kept to the fore during the electoral season. First launched in 1992, Every Woman Counts is now entering its fifth election cycle. The current campaign is the biggest ever and, for the first time, they have formed a coalition of women's media and advocacy groups, as well as national nonprofit organizations.
The 2008 Presidential election, by all indication, is more important than previous elections. Every woman counts!