Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"Gender Affinity Affect", Major or Minor Play in the 2008 Election?

Gender was one of the play cards used in the 2008 election; however, to what extent did it work? According to a scholarly research article, the gender affinity affect is when women voters are most likely in support for female candidates. This article found women do actually feel positively towards a female candidate because of the "shared sex identity".

In this past election Hillary Clinton was a female candidate up for running as president. The Washington Post conducted a survey and found that 51 percent of women supported Hillary while 24 percent supported Obama and 11 percent supported John Edwards. Here is a clear example to the gender affinity affect. However how far does this affect go? Far enough for women to cross over parties? Interestingly, John McCain was the main candidate that tried to used this phenomenon for his advantage, and it somewhat worked. He felt as though having Sarah Palin as his vice president nominee would switch women supporters of Hillary Clinton over to support his campaign. However this article states otherwise:
......women often evaluate female candidates through the lens of political party. That women respondents feel more positively toward female Democratic candidates than do men, but do not have the same affective feelings for female Republican candidates, suggests that any gender gap in evaluations of female candidates should take into account partisan differences as well as sex-based identity.
Overall John McCain's pick for Sarah Palin as his running mate made a difference, but not a drastic difference. A poll conducted by Newsweek found that only 14 percent of female Hillary Clinton supporters wanted to switch and support McCain. This was an affect on McCain's campaign, but not substantial change enough to help him win the election.
The gender affinity affect, in my opinion, played a major role for Hillary Clinton. There were huge numbers of Hillary Clinton supporters that were female and this did help her in the election. On the other hand, McCain thought he could use this affect to his advantage, but it ended up only playing a minor role and not helping out as much as McCain wanted. The gender affinity affect did exist in this election as much as we did not want it to. This article has found that with the number of women increasing in office, we as women are getting a greater understanding and becoming more complex in our thought patterns, when choosing a candidate to support. To some this affect may play a minor role, but the gender affinity affect does exist sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worst.


Ali Wunderman said...

I wonder if this affect is biological, social, or something else? I have definitely seen this occur in my daily life, where women support other women simply based on the shared gender. It reminds me of nationalistic pride; I was watching a Food Network Challenge where the contestants were from different countries, and even though the Germans had better looking food, I still rooted for the Americans, and was really proud when they won. It was certainly smart of John McCain to try and take advantage of this phenomenon, although I also wonder if women ended up seeing through his ploy more than falling for it.

youre likable enough said...

I definitely agree that gender did in fact play a role in the election. This may be due to what you mentioned: How women identify themselves with the same sex. This seen as something many politicians try to exploit. McCain's choosing of Palin as VP reminded me of the enormous effort George W Bush took to gain the support of minorities. For example during George Bush's 2004 reelection campaign, Bush tried to get more Hispanic votes by directly addressing a Hispanic dominated rally in New Mexico. In the rally, he spoke of things which many Hispanic voters wanted to hear in addition to saying phrases in their language. Many analysts say that bush's effort to reach out to the minorities helped him win the very close 2004 election. Your post makes me wonder how African American females voted. Did they feel more obliged to their race or their gender?

elmacdon said...

What stood out to me in what you had to say was the fact that some women tend to evaluate other female candidates more. I wonder why this judging comes into play for women and women candidates. Would a woman be more critical of a female candidate over a male one? In a way, this makes sense to me. Usually when I relate to someone more, I am more critical of him/her. Maybe the women that evaluate female candidates in a strong way are doing so because they are comparing the candidates to themselves. I often compare myself to people that are similar to me, leaning more positively toward thoughts about myself. It makes me feel like I am just as qualified.

swatsonucd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
swatsonucd said...

I know that the "gender affinity affect" played a huge role in my decision during the 2008 primaries, but that was partly due to the fact that I felt that both Obama and Clinton were qualified for the job. Whether or not this is a conscious or subconscious decision, I think that an affinity affect did play a role in the election, but that it was not necessarily related to gender. I think that people tend to relate more to people with whom they have a common ground. For most people it is easier to start a conversation if you know that you have something in common with that other person, because there is a topic or an identify feature to which you can both relate.
Many people say the former President George W. Bush played up his folksy accent and persona because his base could related to it. Regardless of the type of affinity, the ability to relate to a person makes them seem more real, and therefore, draws you to them.