A national poll of voters commissioned by American Women, in partnership with ELLE magazine, indicates that unmarried women—likely to be a key voting bloc in this year’s elections—face a great deal of stress around money and bills, and their concerns can play a role in their voting decisions this November. These women express a desire to support candidates whose policy agenda speaks to their distinct set of economic concerns, including equal pay, college affordability, paid sick days and family leave, and affordable child care.
Yet, unmarried women also want a candidate who respects and cares for the wellbeing of women and families. Unmarried women say they are more likely to support a candidate who will protect a woman’s access to reproductive health and birth control; at the same time, they are much less likely to support a candidate who opposes a woman’s right to have an abortion. And women across the political spectrum outright reject a candidate who disparages women, even if they share policy positions with that candidate.
Hillary Clinton receives the highest favorable ratings of any candidate tested, slightly above those of Democratic primary opponent Bernie Sanders and far outpacing her Republican counterparts.
The following are key findings from a national online survey of 800 registered voters conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. The survey includes an oversample of 200 women ages 18 to 35, resulting in a total of 321 interviews among unmarried women and 296 interviews among millennial women.
- Unmarried women express a strong willingness to back candidates who will address their economic concerns. Bills and expenses far exceed other issues as a cause of stress for unmarried women. It is not surprise, therefore, that these women indicate a greater likelihood of supporting a candidate who takes positions that would help alleviate these economic concerns. Some top policy proposals include:
- Making sure women are paid the same as men for doing the same work by ending gender discrimination in pay (80 percent much or somewhat more likely to support a candidate).
- Lowering taxes on businesses and middle class families to jump start the economy, make companies more competitive, and create millions of American jobs (79 percent much or somewhat more likely to support a candidate).
- Increasing grants for colleges, universities, and community colleges to make college more affordable (76 percent much or somewhat more likely to support a candidate).
- Requiring employers to provide employees with paid family and medical leave (72 percent much or somewhat more likely to support a candidate).
- Allowing workers to earn paid sick days (72 percent much or somewhat more likely to support a candidate).
- Providing tax credits and subsidies to help working parents pay for child care (69 percent much or somewhat more likely to support a candidate).
- Economic policies are key, but unmarried women also rate protecting a woman’s access to reproductive health as a top policy area in support for a candidate. Eight in 10 single, never married women say they would be much or somewhat more likely to support a candidate who will protect women's access to reproductive health care, including birth control. Among this same group, a large majority (59 percent) would be more likely to back a candidate who supports a woman’s right to have an abortion.
- Disparaging women is a deal breaker. Unmarried women readily dismiss a presidential candidate tied to comments and opinions that disrespect women broadly, even if they generally agree with that candidate on most other policy positions. A whopping 86 percent of single women say they would be not that likely or not at all likely to support a candidate for president who has called women "fat pigs," 'dogs," "slobs," "disgusting animals," and "bimbos," even if they generally supported the candidate's position on policies.
The antipathy for these misogynistic comments and behaviors goes beyond partisanship, as overwhelming majorities of women of all partisan identification say that the comments would be a deal breaker for them.
Figure 1: Misogynistic Comments Create a Backlash across Party Lines
- Despite a general lack of enthusiasm for politicians, unmarried women view Hillary Clinton most favorably in the field of Democratic and Republican candidates. Like the broader electorate, unmarried women are generally unhappy about the state of politics; however, Clinton enjoys the strongest standing of the bunch among unmarried women, with 49 percent giving her a warm, favorable rating. Bernie Sanders comes closest to Clinton, with 37 percent warm, favorable ratings. Unmarried women view the Republican field of candidates more negatively:
- Donald Trump: 21 percent warm, favorable ratings
- Carly Fiorina: 20 percent warm, favorable ratings
- Ben Carson: 19 percent warm, favorable ratings
- Marco Rubio: 18 percent warm, favorable ratings
- Ted Cruz: 16 percent warm, favorable ratings
Unmarried women are a crucial bloc of voters for 2016, and they have a distinct and important set of priorities they want candidates for office to address. These women will turn out to support a candidate who speaks to their concerns. But they also demand respect and assurances that the candidate they back will protect their access to reproductive health, and they are ready to reject any candidate who fails to meet those expectations.
American Women thanks its coalition of progressive leaders and organizations who helped make this project possible, including Center for American Progress Action, Make it Work, National Women’s Law Center Action Fund, Voto Latino, Voter Participation Center, and PowerPAC.
 Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research conducted a national online survey of 800 registered voters, with an oversample of 200 millennial women (ages 18-35) female voters, for a total sample size of 1,000. The survey interviewed a total of 296 total millennial women (107 weighted) and 321 unmarried women (186 weighted). The survey was conducted from December 7-10, 2015.