Get out the single-woman vote

New research suggests how.

Published September 27, 2006 4:40PM (EDT)

How to turn out the single-woman vote? HOT MALE CANDIDATES. Kidding. The trickily punctuated Women's Voices. Women Vote has released a new study (conducted by public opinion research/strategic consulting firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner) designed to help increase political participation by unmarried women in America. While they voted in record numbers in 2004, the word is that they "remain underrepresented in the electorate." The challenge for candidates, and for the broader goal of expanding civic participation in the electoral process: getting single women to the voting booth this November.

Focusing on the most competitive congressional districts, the survey found that unmarried women are "extremely discontented" with the Bush administration and the direction of the country. Question is, are they "Throw the bums out!" discontented or "I'm not even voting" discontented? The answer depends, the study suggests, on how much they're made to feel part of the process. My own gloss: Perhaps the fuss over what "kind" of mom women are -- soccer, security, sushi, whatever -- doesn't feel like it's directed at single mothers. Will younger, single, childless women respond better to hearing about "our sons and daughters" in Iraq -- or "our brothers and sisters?" Is there anyone talking to them who's not arguing over their right to control their reproductive health?

Speaking of Iraq, the research suggests that the war and the economy "dominate" unmarried women's agendas and that Get Out the Vote campaigns should focus on those issues. "They ... have deep economic concerns that have been largely unaddressed over the past five years," the study notes. "For younger women, jobs and wages dominate while older unmarried women are more focused on the issues of retirement security and health care."

Ultimately, there's not a lot in here that raised my eyebrows all that high (though there's lots more data on the Web sites linked to in the first paragraph -- check them out if you're curious). And part of me wants to say that no demographic should need to have its hand held, or to receive a special embossed invitation to join the process, to get to the voting booth. But given how maddeningly few Americans vote to begin with, and how few elected this administration the first time (five), I say hey, do what it takes to help empower everyone, including the ladies. For one thing, a woman voting today could be a woman running tomorrow.

By Lynn Harris

Award-winning journalist Lynn Harris is author of the comic novel "Death by Chick Lit" and co-creator of She also writes for the New York Times, Glamour, and many others.

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