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3 - Voter Participation and Turnout: Female Star Power Attracts Women Voters

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2014

Susan J. Carroll
Affiliation:
Rutgers University, New Jersey
Richard L. Fox
Affiliation:
Loyola Marymount University, California
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Summary

Women make up a majority of the U.S. voting-age population, registered voters, and actual voters. These facts explain why both major political parties – Democrat and Republican – and women's advocacy groups from across the ideological spectrum worked hard to mobilize women voters in 2008. Democrats did a slightly better job than Republicans of getting out the vote – the reverse of 2004.

Democrats, particularly the Obama campaign, were more successful at tapping into the powerful new media of the day – social networking sites and online video. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and Flickr each played a vital role in keeping voters, particularly younger ones, interested in the presidential election from start to finish by revolutionizing modes of communication between the candidates and the electorate. In addition, the extraordinary involvement of “celebrity” women (candidates, spouses, entertainers, and news media stars) made the campaign even more intriguing for women of all ages.

At the same time, the highly competitive, protracted fight between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, followed by Sarah Palin's nomination as Republican John McCain's vice presidential running mate, made it crystal clear that even women within the same political party are not always a politically cohesive group. In the early stages of the campaign (primaries and caucuses), many Democratic women's votes were split between Obama and Clinton. And Palin's nomination as McCain's vice presidential running mate alienated some moderate GOP women, prompting them to vote for Obama.

Type
Chapter
Information
Gender and Elections
Shaping the Future of American Politics
, pp. 78 - 116
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2009

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References

Andreas, Carol and Culkin, Katherine. 2003. Women's Rights Movement: The Nineteenth Century. In Dictionary of American History, 3rd ed., Stanley, I. Kutler. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, volume 8, 512Google Scholar
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