Single Women Are the New White Men

What Women Really Think
Nov. 6 2012 4:12 PM

Single Women Are the New White Men

153512083
Smile: Today's working class woman is yesterday's union guy.

Photo by Jean-Sebastien Evrard/AFP/Getty Images.

Sometime over the last 30 years, working-class white men deserted the Democratic Party. For a long time we puzzled over this mass exodus. Many observers pinned it on the irresistible seduction of Ronald Reagan. David Paul Kuhn blamed the general wimpiness of the Democrats, and Thomas Frank blamed just general stupidity in What’s the Matter With Kansas? Over time we became less interested in why and just dismissed these white men as the most “terrified, lopsided, confused demographic in all of America,” as Mark Morford recently put it.

This election cycle we finally have a decent replacement for the working-class white man. The single woman voter—especially the one up for grabs, who is more likely to have children—is basically at exactly the economic and psychological place the married, white, working-class man was in the ’70s. She tends to be working-class, the main provider for her family, and not all that hostile to the idea of government help. In recent focus groups in Virginia and Ohio, women were asked what they thought of Mitt Romney’s dismissal of the “47 percent.” Married women described it as “honest” and agreed that “too many people are wanting the help of government.” Single women sided with the 47 percent, saying they were just people who wanted to “work their way up and be better.”

Advertisement

This is what a union guy in Kansas would have felt in 1975 and what would have led him to vote Democratic before everything changed, and as Kuhn put it, the Republican party seemed to “own masculinity itself.” So which way will the single woman lean? You’d think that she would flee the party of masculinity, unless it was happening at the Sigma Chi house (joke, friends, don’t scream). But as the white men already showed us, people don’t always vote for what we see as their obvious interests. The women may be more socially inclined to Democrats, but they also may be offended by, say, the Obama campaign’s hipster portrayal of your average woman as wholly and utterly dependent on various Obama assistance programs from birth to death, especially considering that they themselves are making it on their own. They may also be surprisingly attached to the idea of marriage and traditional family values despite the obvious reality in their own house (the Bristol Palin effect). Democrats, tread lightly, and consider yourself warned. 

Hanna Rosin is the founder of DoubleX and a writer for the Atlantic. She is also the author of The End of Men. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

The World’s Politest Protesters

The Occupy Central demonstrators are courteous. That’s actually what makes them so dangerous.

The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:58 PM The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The Feds Have Declared War on Encryption—and the New Privacy Measures From Apple and Google

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You

It spreads slowly.

These “Dark” Lego Masterpieces Are Delightful and Evocative

Crime

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Activists Are Trying to Save an Iranian Woman Sentenced to Death for Killing Her Alleged Rapist

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?