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Women and GOTV


It says that all we have to do in order to rid Sunnydale of the demonic ruler is to . . . 

The other day, after spending time rambling about the Hamdan decision (and trying to entice an unclaimed kitten in the barn out from behind stacks of horse blankets) I came across a post that, like so may on FDL, was hard to ignore.  Vampire Willow doing a PSA for GOTV.  

The comments took the already meaty topic (and a few others as well) and ran with it (them).  FDL comments multi-task.  Sometimes hitting so many aspects is such quick succession it leaves you dizzy.  I love it.  Who needs a ticket for the roller coaster when you have FDL?

As usual, they made me think, even more so because I know nothing about the topic.  So this post is about comments.  It’s also a post that is about something completely out of my depth – GOTV.   I haven’t been very political in my life, except during the Vietnam War, when I couldn’t vote.   After the war, there was a sense of the worst being over.  Now I know it’s not over and I can vote. This post is also about something everyone has experienced – being unmarried.   Here, I am so “in my depth” that my ankles aren’t even wet.  How is this related to Vampire Willow?  Only FDL & Jane would find the seemingly obscure thread that links the unmarried to the undead.   Neither group votes.  

GOTV and the Unmarried

This is my condensed and culled reaction from the posts and info in the Bored and a couple of following posts.  Condensed and culled. If you think you hear thunder, it’s probably just the universe laughing.   

From the original FDL post I learned the women favor Dems, 2 to 1, for this November.  I also learned that there are 20 million unmarried women who don’t vote and they are the single largest demographic for non-voters.  Rayne had a tremendous link to AAUW information, and most of the comments focused on unmarried women.  However, from tracking through the comments, I also found that about 19 million unmarried men don’t vote.  IMO, the unmarrieds are allied together, like the unmarried and the undead.

What is the nature of that alliance?  “Unholy?” you ask, with a little trepidation?  Not really.  “Uninhibited?” ask the Rude Pundit readers, with a voice full of hope and wist?  Sadly, not always.  “Understandable?”  That’s the one.  Whether unmarried or undead, we know someone is just waiting out there to drive a stake through our hearts.  Lengthy incisors may be the most direct way to handle those foes – piercing  the jugular of your opponent and leave a few bloodless, lifeless bodies in your wake.  There is, however, a less dramatic, less messy and still leaves room for dessert option.  Voting.  

So what does it take to get the unmarried to vote?  Lots of great comments and anecdotal and geographic responses were in the comments and I want to work a few of them in and hope to get more, but they took on some different meanings for me when I clicked through the “Women Voices, Women Votes” link provided by katymine.  (katymine says: July 1st, 2006 at 6:35 pm). 

There I found a detailed, 80+ pp study full of stuff I didn’t know.  So I read it. First, in my defense, it has lots of white space and graphs and charts.  Second, I did mention that I was not going down the salacious path of a Rude Pundit.  If for no other reason than that the *($#@ ^ birds ate the breadcrumbs while I slept in.  Anyway, there were a lot of things I hadn’t thought of in the study.  (slow loading pdf).  

Things have changed.  In the 1950’s,  over ¾ of American households were headed by a married couple, but by 2008 more than ½ will be headed by an unmarried person. Unmarried men have gone from less than 5% of the population before 1960, to about 20% now and comprise 40% of American men.  Unmarrieds are becoming a much more significant group, with their demographics worth some examination.

The study says single men and women are both more likely to be “populist” on economic issues than their married counterparts.  In context of the study – that means they support government assistance and support for healthcare, education, poverty programs, etc.  The very antithesis of the Republican, anti-New Testament approach that has increased the ranks of the poor and put education and healthcare further and further from the reach of even the middle class.   

This has to be bothersome for Republicans, who seem well aware that the rabble ranks are growing; particularly the ranks of unmarried women.  Unfortunately for the Wurlitzer, these unmarried women are, according the study, less likely than the population at large to a) listen to talk radio; b) watch news programs, c) read the paper, and d) attend church.  The study finds that unmarried women are more “socially tolerant” than their married counterparts.

This is not the same as socially liberal, though.   For example, on abortion:

“Unmarried women are not much more likely to think abortion should be legal. A majority (55 percent) of unmarried women support legal abortion, compared to 51 percent of married women. These women are, however, more likely to hold negative feelings toward pro-life, anti abortion groups; less than a third (29 percent) of unmarried women hold a favorable view of pro-life groups, compared to nearly half (45 percent) of married women (Democracy Corps).”

From a follow up thread/post,  Siun had a similar message. She posted “from what I see with young women (and my dtr is 20 and loves voting btw) is that abortion does not connect with them as an issue” (siun says: July 1st, 2006 at 10:45 pm).   

Unmarried women and men both tend, more than the average population, to not own their own homes.  They move more, have lower wages and according to the study, are not as connected with their communities (belong to local organizations, churches, etc.).   A full 17% of unmarried women DO NOT OWN A CAR.  That is almost  one in five.  There were a bazillion comments about the fact that transportation, and very likely childcare, were integral to a GOTV effort for unmarried women.  Amen and get the keys.

Or, as pointed out, in some places, get the “absentee” ballots.  That was something that had not occurred to me.  Now that it’s been raised, IMO, for the future a push for expanding mail in ballot rights in many states would be a terrific undertaking.  For now, a very good reference source with requirements (the requirements vary from state to state for mail in ballots, from very tight, to lax, or even, as Cozumel pointed, to required for Oregon, where all votes mail in) and options would be handy.

Mail-ins don’t just address the issues of no car, overworked, no time and no childcare (as if that were all a “just”).  Several commenters posted that first time voters or those who had not voted for a long time are very uncomfortable with, almost scared of, the process.  That strikes me as being very believable, although not addressed in the study per se.  I think it *could* be much less intimidating for many to sit down at home, able to ask questions, take their time and not have to deal with strangers in a strange place for a strange function.  After looking at some of the forms, though, I have to say some were drafted with unfriendly ink.

Are there other ways to demystify the process for unmarried who haven’t been voters?  I wonder about a blitz of efforts to make all the aspects of registering and voting much more familiar.  If the administration puts out VRNs, why can’t the DNC or other NGOs that work for voter issues do the same?  I don’t really know the FCC rules on this, but it seems a perfect issue for a canned piece that really walks through all the steps in the process.  Or maybe some pressure for local news to do reports?  The photo ID issues alone would seem to justify some news stories on the local level.

More and more states are requiring photo ids and there are some Federal issues now as well.  No cars = no licenses, so unmarried women are disproportionately impacted.  You can, of course, get photo ids just for voting, if you understand the process and have the energy and discretionary income (even if they are free, getting the certification or copies you need may not be free).   Despite assurances to the contrary, it seems to me as if getting that photo ID can be an accomplishment on a par with getting your Picture on the Cover of the Rolling Stones.  Do you have primary id?  Is it certified? Do you have secondary id?  Is it authenticated?  One from column A, three from column B, wait in line at DMV for all afternoon, then get sent home because you don’t have one of the things you need.  Efforts to get out more info on photo id would seem to be a good idea to me, especially since by 2008 even more states will have this requirement.  Unfortunately, as mentioned, local news efforts are not as likely to reach unmarried men and women, but for those they do reach, it might be worth the effort.  

What might reach more?  The study says unmarried women are more likely to watch soap operas and daytime talk (and reality shows).  What about soap story lines on voting? Some daytime talk segments, maybe an Oprah show, that deal with details on registering and voting.  If a big segment of their viewers are unmarried women, a topic highlighting this issue for unmarried women and offering the steps they can take to become a part of the process might have some appeal?  The “hair salon” concept from the comments seems like it could stand some focus and expansion as a possibility too.  

Unmarried men?  Heck if I know other than sports programming.  I gotta think if you could own the pizza box print, you might be able to covertly program them, but right now I haven’t developed that beyond a plotline for a B movie.  Or maybe a DOD grant proposal.   If you do reach them,  “. . . unmarried men expressed similar concerns to unmarried women, though their economic concerns were more narrowly about jobs and wages than issues like healthcare and retirement security.”  They also just don’t lose a lot of sleep over other people’s moral values.  “Unlike married people, unmarried men expressed very little concern about moral values, with only 16 percent of unmarried men stressing these concerns, compared to 26 percent of married men.”  The concept of Rude Pundit as a demographic is a bit much to digest in one sitting.

What else?  “They also expressed their concern and hostility towards the war in Iraq.”   Finally, for me the beginning and the end, where I first flirted with activism as an underage protestor, and now am being drawn back as an overage protestor.   The war.  For unmarried women, the study says  it is a huge issue.

“On Election Night,2004, unmarried women were primarily concerned with the situation in Iraq (39 percent) and with the economy and jobs. They were less likely than married women to cite terrorism and national security or moral values as their leading concerns.”

Unmarried women are more insulated from the Wurlitzer (see above), but they are also insulated from a lot of liberal information sources. Their discontent seems to have evolved more separate from spin.   And their discontent was big in 2004.  Iraq was their number one issue and 69 percent thought the country was on the wrong track.  Unmarried men, too, put Iraq near the top (second), also with 39%, but they ranked economy and jobs first as their concern.

IMO, Dems who want to attract a chunk of these almost 40 million no-voters have been thrown a lifeline from “the rabble of the left” on the war.  Their failure to truly distinguish themselves on this and range of other issues would seem to be a tremendous “de-motivator” to the unmarried, because the survey shows – they want change.  They are much more likely than their married counterparts to say the country is on the wrong course.  They don’t want to have a beer with George Bush.   They don’t have to click Tweety and Fox off, because they never clicked them on.   For unmarried men and women, the stats from the survey and comment from the posts both seem to indicate the motivator would be the same.  Change.  

How do Dems motivate with a message of “we’ll do the same thing on the war –  no change?”

How do Dems GOTV for programs where they do offer change, with a system that is fighting them tooth and nail to make it difficult for the unmarried to vote?   

Do they care?

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