Women’s Vote Watch — The Democrats

Hillary Clinton dominated the women's vote in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries, and that edge helped her become the first woman in U.S. history to clinch a major party nomination.

Riva Richmond By Riva Richmond

Welcome to Women’s Vote Watch, Democrat edition — our close look at the impact of women voters on the Democratic primaries. Our big takeaway: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attracted very strong female support, and this ballot-box power helped her rack up electoral wins against Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Indeed, after Clinton won four in six contests on June 7 and became the first woman to clinch a major party nomination in United States history, it’s fair to say women were queenmakers in this race.

We’ve been tracking the “women’s vote” in the 2016 U.S. presidential race because it could prove decisive. Overall, more women vote — and their turnout is powerful in an era of close American elections. Some 4 million to 7 million more women than men cast votes in recent national elections, while President Obama won in 2012 over Mitt Romney by only 3.5 million votes. 

Women play an especially big role in selecting the Democratic Party’s nominee. More women lean Democratic, and they show up greater numbers than men do to Democratic primaries and caucuses. That means that, if you win women, you win the Democratic nomination. (Though less influential in the Republican primaries, we charted the women’s vote here.)

Below is our state-by-state breakdown of key data from the Democratic Party contests between Clinton and Sanders. This chart flows from our recent article examining whether American women might make Clinton the first woman president of the United States, and we have updated it over the course of the Democratic primaries.

Blue marks the percentage of the overall vote earned by the winner of each state. Highlighted in yellow is the percentage of the women’s vote earned by the winner of that group’s vote. Included are only the 27 primary contests where gender data are available, courtesy of exit and entrance polling as documented by CNN. Exit polls were not conducted in any of the June 7 primary states, which included the big prizes of California and New Jersey.

Exit polls reveal that Clinton won the women’s vote, often by large margins, in every race but five: New Hampshire and Vermont, Sanders’ home turf; West Virginia; and Wisconsin and Indiana, where women split their votes fairly evenly.

She tended to secure quite large gender gaps: The difference between her share of the women’s vote and share of the men’s vote has stretched as high as 16 percentage points (Arkansas and Massachusetts). It was 13 points in her adopted home state of New York, where the men’s vote split evenly.

Clinton’s strength with women was decisive in states where she won close-call races: Iowa, Massachusetts, Missouri and Nevada. It made the crucial difference in Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, where a majority of women voted for Clinton, while a majority of men voted for Sanders. However, it did not save her from defeat in Michigan and Oklahoma.

What role will the women’s vote play in the general election? The historic nature of Clinton candidacy could drive unprecedented female turnout. And given the fact that her opponent is Donald Trump — whose many offensive comments about women has lifted his negative ratings among them to stratospheric levels — Clinton could well draw large numbers of independent and Republican women. It will be a fascinating election, dominated by gender issues. We’ll be watching closely, so stay tuned!

[Editors note: This item was first published on Tuesday, March 15. It was updated March 16, following elections in Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Iowa; April 6, after the election in Wisconsin; April 20, after the election in New York; April 27, after elections in Connecticut, Maryland and Pennsylvania; May 4, after the election in Indiana; May 11, after the election in West Virginia; and June 8, after Clinton clinched the nomination.]

Hillary-Clinton-Circle3 Bernie-Circle2
Alabama

78%

women’s vote / men’s vote

80% / 73%

19%

women’s vote / men’s vote

17% / 24%

Arkansas

♦ 66%

76%/ 60% 

30%

23% / 37%

Connecticut

♦ 52%

57% / 43% 

47%

41% / 55%

Florida

♦ 66%

68% / 61% 

33%

30% / 38%

Georgia

71%

76% / 66% 

28%

23% / 33%

Illinois

♦ 50%

55% / 45% 

49%

45% / 53%

Indiana

47%

 50% / 43% 

53%

 50% / 57%

Iowa

50%

53% / 44% 

50%

42% / 50%

Maryland

♦ 63%

68% / 55% 

33%

29% / 40%

Massachusetts

50%

57% / 41% 

49%

42% / 58%

Michigan

48%

 51% / 44% 

50%

45% / 55%

Mississippi

83%

85% / 79% 

17%

15% / 19%

Missouri

50%

54% / 44% 

49%

44% / 56%

Nevada

53%

57% / 44% 

47%

41% / 53%

New Hampshire

38%

44% / 32% 

60%

55% / 67%

New York

58%

63% / 50% 

42%

37% / 50%

North Carolina

55%

59% / 49% 

41%

37% / 47%

Ohio

57%

63% / 48% 

43%

36% / 51%

Oklahoma

42%

48% /33% 

52%

46% / 60%

Pennsylvania

♦ 56%

60% / 49% 

44%

39% / 50%

South Carolina

74%

79% / 68% 

26%

21% / 32%

Tennessee

66%

70% / 64% 

32%

29% / 35%

Texas

65%

70% / 61% 

33%

28% / 38%

Vermont

14%

17% / 9% 

86%

83% / 91%

Virginia

64%

70% / 57% 

35%

30% / 42%

West Virginia

36%

37% / 34% 

51%

50% / 53%

Wisconsin

43%

49% / 35% 

57%

50% / 64%

Posted: June 8, 2016

Riva RichmondWomen’s Vote Watch — The Democrats
  • Barbara Goldblatt

    The people in this country that do not see a smart and erudite woman are the ones I pray for. You can say what you want about Clinton, but she is smart and would take this country in the direction it should be going. Get over the e-mails, it is over and done. She admitted to her mistake if one was made and she is trying to tell you let her make this country strong and work together. Why is that so hard to see.