With the news cycle constantly churning on, it can be difficult to remember that the 2018 midterms are right around the corner. Polling organizations haven't forgotten it, though, and recent polling provides valuable information about how things might turn out on Nov. 6. One factor looks to be particularly important in determining which party voters are planning on supporting, and it's particularly relevant right now; specifically, the gender divide in midterms polling is probably even more extreme than you would have imagined it.
According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Sunday, 57 percent of women would prefer that Democrats controlled Congress, compared with 32 percent who would prefer that Republicans did. When you look at men, though, the results are almost exactly flipped. Fifty-two percent of men want the GOP to control Congress, compared with 38 percent of men who want control of Congress to switch into Democratic hands.
Over the past several months, numerous other studies and polls have shown that the gender gap between the parties is widening. For example, a Pew Research Center study from March 2018 found an uptick in the percentage of women identifying with the Democratic Party since 2015, whereas the percentage of Democratic-leaning men had stayed about the same.
Vox noted that this uptick seemed to be directly related to millennial women supporting the Democratic Party in greater numbers, which also corresponds to the NBC/WSJ poll from Sunday. People aged 18 to 34, a demographic that roughly corresponds with the millennial generation, support a Democratically-controlled Congress at about the same rate as women do, with 58 percent hoping for the Democrats to come out victorious and only 32 percent hoping for the Republicans to win.
There are, of course, numerous factors that could be contributing to the gender divide in politics. Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin and others have argued that new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation process likely pushed more women toward supporting the Democrats, even after Trump proved himself to be very unpopular among women.
FiveThirtyEight pointed to a few other women-friendly factors on the Democratic side, like the unprecedented number of female candidates running as Democrats. A Politico poll from September even found that Democratic women are the most highly motivated to vote in November, with 71 percent saying that they are "very motivated" to turn out in the midterms.
Bloomberg, on the other hand, pointed out that a gender gap in political leanings — particularly this one, with women tending toward Democrats and men tending the opposite way — is nothing new in American politics. As Democrats gain female support, the Republicans appear to be strengthening their male base. However, CNBC reporter John Harwood noted on Twitter that the NBC/WSJ poll shows a heavy Republican reliance on one particular group of men coming out to vote for them in large numbers. The GOP has its largest margin of support among white men without a college degree, at 66 percent supporting them and only 24 percent supporting Democrats. Harwood also noted that that group makes up only one-fifth of the electorate — where as women make up half.
Pre-election polling, as everyone learned in 2016, only tells a tiny piece of the story, and anything could happen on Election Day. One thing is clear, though — who turns up to vote will have a huge impact on which party has a more successful night, and women could play a big role in deciding that.