Data published late last year by the Pew Research Center indicated that the marriage rate amongst U.S. adults stands at an all-time low. “In 1960, 72% of all adults ages 18 and older were married; today just 51% are.” And within the 49% that remain unattached, more than half of the unmarried Americans are women. For every 100 single women, there are 88 bachelors available.
What does this mean beyond a favorable dating pool imbalance for the nation’s single men? Well for the tone tone-deaf Republican party one implication is that when the polls open this November to elect the next President of the United States, there will be an awful lot of single women casting votes. The party continues to cater to its target base of wealthy, older white men at its own peril.
The New York Times highlighted the predicament facing Republican candidates this morning in an article published as part of the paper’s “Campaign 2012” series. Viewing the female vote through the prism of the country’s weak fiscal performance, the piece by writer Shaila Dewan entitled, “Weak Economy Puts Spotlight on Votes of Single Women,” argues “Single women are one of the country’s fastest-growing demographic groups — there are 1.8 million more now than just two years ago. They make up a quarter of the voting-age population nationally, and even more in several swing states, including Nevada.”
The article presents examples of women, small-business owners and urban singles among others, who feel a conflict between government regulation and intrusion but have suffered personally in an anemic job market with soaring health care costs. This brand of savvy singleton is not so quick to swallow the GOP party directive of laying blame for the nation’s troubles at the feet of Obama. Remembering the unpaid for Bush tax cuts, the deregulation of Wall Street and bristling at the very recent assault on women’s reproductive health does not require the lengthy-tenured cognizance of an elephant. As one woman quoted in Dewan’s piece claims, “I am definitely a swing vote…I have no idea.”
It is more than proper, it is fact common sense, to wonder how Republicans view a path to victory that excludes single women, not to mention the Hispanic vote they have also devoted ample time to alienating. For every crazy like Palin or Bachmann who puts a pretty face on outdated feminist doubletalk, there are literally millions of women struggling to keep a roof over their head and food on the table while GOP standard bearers presume to tell them what they might be able to do with their bodies. Meanwhile, as the title of the Times article suggests, they have bigger fish to fry. As one of those single female voters in abundance, I can tell you we are tired of not being taken seriously.
Keep patting us on the head, calling us sluts and shuffling us aside as statistics like this go ignored: “While the jobless rate for married women has stayed relatively low, at 5.6 percent compared with 2.6 percent before the recession, the rate for unmarried women has risen to 11 percent, from a prerecession level of 6 percent.”
There are more single women than single men in the country yet our ability to provide for ourselves is reflected in an unemployment rate that exceeds the national average. Those of us who do have jobs can expect to earn less than our male counterparts while fending off presumptuous debates regarding our reproductive health. It’s enough to drive a madwoman to the attic.
But we’ll have our revenge at the ballot box this Fall. And we’ll enjoy the spectacle of the GOP’s mystified Wednesday morning quarterbacking when it’s all over. It’s sort of like ignoring half the chess pieces on the board then wondering how you found yourself checkmated.