Politicians and their campaigns know who their audience is. They had better, as any effective communicator needs to know who he or she is talking to. And in Connecticut, it’s the women who matter.
Connecticut’s two top-tier races this year – for Governor and U.S. Senate – are both looking like lop-sided affairs as polls show Connecticut women are giving enormous advantages to the Democratic candidates. In the gubernatorial contest, the Quinnipiac University poll released Oct. 24 shows Gov. Ned Lamont, the Democrat, with a 31 percentage point advantage with women voters – propelling him to a 15-point overall lead over Republican challenger Bob Stefanowski. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, also a Democrat, enjoys the same advantage over Republican challenger Leora Levy; women are giving Blumenthal the nod by 31 points and are largely the reason for his 15-point lead.
The importance of women voters for Democratic candidates and campaigns is well established in Connecticut and nationally. Some of this reflects simple demographics and ingrained behaviors, including that there are more women than men. They register to vote more, and they vote more:
- There were 3 million more women in the United States than men in 2021, according to Statista;
- In 2020, the share of women registered to vote nationally was three percent higher than among men, as per Statista; and
- Women vote more than men. For example, in the 2020 presidential election, women cast 82.2 million votes and men cast 72.5 million votes, according to the Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics.
Simply because there are so many of them, and because they exercise the right to vote more than men, women arguably form the most important Democratic voting block of all. The Rutgers Center reports that women have voted majority Democrat every presidential year since 1996.
And in Connecticut this girl-powered Democratic advantage is even more pronounced and appears to be growing. Lamont’s lead with women is more than double what President Biden’s was nationally in 2020. And it is also 9 points higher, according to a Quinnipiac University poll at the time, than it was in October 2018 when Lamont faced Stefanowski in a close contest the Democrat would win by 3 points.
One potential explanation for the growing advantage among women voters that Lamont is enjoying this time could be the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling this summer striking down the constitutional right to an abortion. However, it appears that the abortion issue is not dominating Connecticut female voters’ mindset as they ponder this year’s election. The Oct. 24 Quinnipiac poll shows only 11% of likely women voters identified abortion as the most “urgent issue facing Connecticut today,” whereas 37% identified inflation as the most important.
Quinnipiac pollster Douglas Schwartz said the reason abortion did not track as a more important issue is that Connecticut women recognize that state law is unlikely to change given large Democratic majorities in both chambers of the Legislature. “In Connecticut, abortion rights are not at risk,” Schwartz said. “So it is of less concern than it would be in a place like Pennsylvania where, if the Republcan wins, they very well may outlaw abortion.”
While the abortion issue itself may not explain why Connecticut women are calling the political shots this year, the campaigns themselves show no confusion over who they need talk to.
Just a casual viewing demonstrates that Connecticut political ads are women dominated this election season. Blumenthal has a TV spot slamming Leora Levy on abortion, and the only male in the entire spot is Blumenthal. Stefanowski is running an ad featuring him, his daughters and his wife. (The gender of the family dog is unknown.) Lamont is running two ads with the same woman narrator looking directly into the camera to tell us not to listen to “false attacks” on Lamont and his family. Again, the only males represented are the candidates.
The Connecticut female voters courted by these male candidates are the real prize of this election campaign. The girls hold the power.