Strong economy not helping GOP with gender gap


With just a few weeks left before voters head to the polls, the CNBC All-America Economic Survey finds a widening gender gap in both views on the economy as well as on the midterm election.

Overall, economic optimism in the country is at historic highs. The poll of 800 voting-age Americans finds that 48 percent are optimistic about the economy now and for the future, which is a record high in the poll’s 11-year history.

But when broken down by gender, a 50 percent majority of women say the economy is fair or poor and 48 percent of women say the state of the economy is excellent or good. That’s compared to a 70 percent majority of men who say the economy is excellent or good, and 28 percent of men saying the economy is fair or poor.

“The environment that women are perceiving [is] way different from what men are perceiving,” said Micah Roberts, partner at Public Opinion Strategies and the Republican pollster on the survey.

This gender gap comes despite a booming economy, with unemployment rate near 50-year lows and gross domestic product soaring above trend to 4.2 percent in the last quarter. This will bring little cheer to the Republicans who have been struggling with a gender gap for decades. The strong economy does not seem to be helping bridge that gap.

The poll, conducted Oct. 4th through Oct. 7th, also finds there is a 17 point lead among female voters who say they will vote for the Democratic candidate over female voters who plan to vote for the Republican candidate.

The gap in the economic exuberance felt among men and women did not happen overnight, according to Jay Campbell, partner with Hart Research Associates and the Democratic pollster for the CNBC survey. In fact, the gap “has been growing. Women seem to be locked in and men have been growing a little bit each quarter” in their economic optimism.

While men and women both increased in their economic optimism, the 15-point gap from a year ago between the percentage of men and women who said the economy was excellent or good has now widened to 22-points. This means that men’s optimism continued to grow, while women’s optimism was more static.

And although President Donald Trump isn’t on the ballot in November, the gender gap persists with voters’ views on his economic policies and temperament. 43 percent of women say they do not like his economic policies and they are concerned about his temperament. That’s compared to 29 percent of men who say the same.

“There’s kind of a steel wall between what the GOP can say on the economy and the perception that women have on the current state of the economy. That’s been there for awhile,” said Roberts. “Even with economic optimism growing, women are pretty much dug in. It’s an important understanding to have ahead of the election.”

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