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The Gender Gap in California Politics

Dean Bonner April 5, 2018
Woman Voter Entering Voting Polling Place For USA Government Election

In the past year, women have led large-scale political protests nationwide and an increasing number are running for elected office. In California, likely women voters have a numeric edge over men (53% to 47%), according to PPIC’s analysis. With the midterm elections quickly approaching, will women make a pivotal difference?

PPIC’s March 2018 survey offers some insight: nearly six in ten women (58%) support the Democratic candidate on the generic ballot for the U.S. House of Representatives—a 9-point increase since 2014. Preferences among men are unchanged.

Although PPIC surveys show female likely voters are much more likely than their male counterparts to disapprove of President Trump (67% to 52%), issues like immigration policy, gun control, and taxes also reveal degrees of a gender gap. Examples include:

  • Immigration policy. Six in ten female (62%) likely voters are in favor of state and local governments making their own policies—separate from the federal government—to protect the rights of undocumented immigrants; fewer than half of men (46%) are in favor.
  • Gun control. While solid majorities of men and women think laws covering the sale of guns should be stricter, more women (78%) than men (60%) hold that view.
  • Federal tax law. Differences are also apparent between women (49%) and men (29%) who believe that the tax laws will have a negative impact on their families in the coming years.

However, it is important to note the role that party plays in policy preferences. For each of the aforementioned issues, there are sizable differences between Democratic women and Republican women. It’s also notable that among Republican likely voters, more women (54%) than men (38%) think gun laws should be stricter.

California is often mentioned as a battleground state in the 2018 elections, and tension between the federal and state governments is palpable. California’s government stands in opposition to many policies coming out of Washington and several of its congressional seats could be up for grabs—potentially determining the party that will lead the next US Congress. As a result, the nation will be watching California. And the PPIC Statewide Survey will continue to follow the perceptions and preferences of California’s likely voters, with particular interest in the gender gap.

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