The prominent Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, headed by Stanley Greenberg, has issued an important analysis of the 2004 Presidential election.
It validates my recent conclusion on VDARE.com: the "Marriage Gap" is the single best way to understanding why states vote Republican or Democrat.
As you will recall, I found that Bush's share of the vote by state correlated (at the extraordinarily high level of r = 0.91, in quant speak) with the average years married among white women ages 18 to 44 in those states.
Some readers countered that, to be sure that marriage matters, I needed to look at the individual level as well as the state level.
Well, now Greenberg's individual polling data has confirmed my approach.
Greenberg's new report "Unmarried Women in the 2004 Presidential Election" [PDF format] finds that:
"The marriage gap is one of the most important cleavages in electoral politics… The marriage gap is a defining dynamic in today's politics, eclipsing the gender gap, with marital status a significant predictor of the vote, independent of the effects of age, race, income, education or gender."
Greenberg apparently has access to the unpublished individual level data from the 2004 exit poll data. So he can do "cross-tabulations" on narrow demographic breakdowns.
(How about those exit polls? While I was, correctly, disputing their initially inflated Hispanic share figures for Bush, I contended that the 2004's exit poll was unusually shoddy. And last week, my assessment was confirmed by the polling company's own report on its performance—as summarized by Mystery Pollster. Still, the figures for single vs. married voters seem relatively untroubled, and they coincide well with my own analysis of the raw exit poll data from the 2002 Congressional elections. The 2004 exit poll numbers also aren't too far off from a phone poll Greenberg conducted right after the election.)
Greenberg found that:
"Unmarried women voted for Kerry by a 25-point margin (62 to 37 percent), while married women voted for President Bush by an 11-point margin (55 percent to 44 percent)… This was true of all age groups…"
"Unmarried 18- 29 year olds gave Kerry a 25 point margin, while younger married women, like their older counterparts, gave President Bush an 11 point margin."
Greenberg built a multiple regression model and found:
"Marital status was a statistically significant predictor of likelihood to vote for Kerry…This is true even when controlling for other demographic and behavioral factors such as gender, age, race, gun ownership, union household membership, party identification, education, income, and church attendance.
"Controlling for all these other variables, the odds of voting for Kerry were 1.56 times greater if the voter was unmarried than if the voter was married.
"In contrast, once other demographic and behavioral factors were controlled for, a voter's gender had no significant effect on their likelihood to vote for the Democrat." [Italics are Greenberg's.]
That 1.56 times greater likelihood of voting for Kerry if you are single is a remarkably large effect when you consider that Greenberg is statistically controlling for party identification along with a laundry list of other famous demographic factors.
But professionals like Greenberg understand that to understand American elections, you have to break out whites separately. They are so numerically dominant and they have such distinctive voting dynamics.
Whites cast a majority of the votes everywhere except Hawaii and the District of Columbia. They are much more variable than blacks or other minorities. Bush's share of whites varied from only 40 percent in Massachusetts and Vermont to 85 percent in Mississippi—a 45-point range.
In contrast, Bush's share of blacks varied only from 3 percent in D.C. to 28 percent in Oklahoma—a 25-point range. (Bush won 58 percent of the white vote but only 11 percent of the black vote.)
Stanley Greenberg's liberal credentials are unassailable—he's Clintonista James Carville's partner in Democracy Corps. And he's good at giving Democrats bad news—he warned them that their support for affirmative quotas was killing them in the 1980s (not that Bush Administration policy has been much different). So he puts a lot of effort into understanding the white vote. For example, before the election he issued a memo advising Kerry to focus on eleven particular demographic slices. Ten were specific white groups, such as "White non-college educated women."
Similarly, in this new report Greenberg breaks out the white unmarried vote. One big reason for this: single voters as a whole include a much higher proportion of blacks (i.e., blacks don't get married much these days). So without specifically focusing just on white voters, it's hard to tell whether the Marriage Gap really does drive how people vote … or whether the Marriage Gap is just a side effect of the Race Gap that we already know is so deep.
Answer: according to Greenberg, even among whites, the Marriage Gap is still a chasm.
Bush carried merely 44% of the single white females but 61% of the married white women—a 17 point difference.
Among white men, Bush won 53% of the singles and 66% of the married—a 13 point difference.
Marriage seems to narrow the gender gap by encouraging wives to vote more like their husbands. Among single whites, the gender gap is 9 percentage points, but among married whites, it's only 5 points.
It's likely that wedlock makes women more Republican for at least two reasons.
Nonetheless, while marriage has a bigger impact on women's Republican voting than men's', it strongly affects both sexes. Hence that 13 point gap between single and married white men's GOP propensity.
It's not hard to make up a long list of reasons why marriage inclines people to vote Republican:
And that's just a start.
As I point out in my article in the current issue of The American Conservative entitled A Tale of Two States: America's Future is Either Texas or California (click here for an excerpt), the Golden State had relatively high rates of white fertility and marriage up through the 1988 election. And that election marked the ninth time in ten Presidential campaigns that California had gone Republican.
But when the 1986 illegal immigrant amnesty got into gear, it helped overwhelm California's real estate market and public schools.
Wedding and birth rates among California whites dropped to among the lowest in the country.
Not coincidentally, California has voted for Democratic Presidential candidates by 10 to 13 point margins in the last four elections.
If California is a forerunner in this, as in so much else, the future looks brighter for the Democrats than it may appear right now.
As Greenberg notes about his favorite demographic group's performance in the last election:
"In a year with high turnout, unmarried women increased their numbers, and were one of the few demographic groups to increase their share of the electorate. As a percentage of the electorate, they moved from 19 percent in 2000 to 22.4 percent in 2004, an increase of roughly 7 million votes."
Moral for Republicans: you should be actively striving to help Americans afford to get married.