Unmarried Women and the 2016 Elections

A national poll of voters commissioned by American Women[1], 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.

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

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.


[1] 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.


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