Amidst the Democratic cheering over last week’s election results in Virginia and New Jersey, one sobering fact remains: white women still preferred the Republican anti-choice candidates in both states.
Not that there wasn’t improvement for Democrats over 2016, but the majority of white women still voted Republican and anti-choice.
In Virginia, white women voted 51-48 for the Republican Gillespie (it was 54-41 in 2016, so a 3-point improvement). Black women went the other way, voting 91-8 for the pro-choice Democrat Northam (the same ratio as 2016).
In New Jersey, white women voted 55-44 for the Republican Guadagno (it was 51-45 in 2016, so a 4-point improvement). Black women were 94-4 for the pro-choice Democrat Murphy (it was 92-8 in 2016).
Political experts will slice and dice the exit polls looking for trends, silver linings, dangers. Here are a few.
Married women (white and black) in Virginia voted 54% for the pro-choice candidate, while unmarried women voted 77% for him. Lower income women and whites with no college degree skewed Republican. Reproductive freedom is of vital importance to unmarried women; marital security is of vital importance to the less-educated and lower-income women (and legal birth control and abortion are seen as a threat to that). The pro-choice candidates need to make a better case why reproductive freedom is of vital importance to the married too, as it permits the optimal timing, spacing and number of children.
In Virginia only 8% of the electorate said that abortion was the most important issue – health care, guns, immigration and taxes being offered as more important. The issues in New Jersey were similar, with government corruption thrown in for good measure. So, one cannot call the 2017 election a referendum on abortion, though it is known that the position on abortion is a deal breaker for many on both sides, even if they profess to be more interested in other issues.
The first-year record of the President has not changed the votes of a majority of white women.