Charlie Baker and the incredible vanishing gender gap
Analyzing the latest polls
Charlie Baker has bridged the gender gap. Nationally, Democratic women are fleeing the Republican party, threatening to swing a host of offices to Democrats, while men still tilt right. But women here in Massachusetts prefer Baker over Democrat Jay Gonzalez by about the same margins as do male voters.
This was by no means expected. Baker’s two previous runs for governor featured two of the largest gender gaps in recent statewide electoral history.
When we refer to the gender gap gap, we mean the distance between the margins among male voters and female voters. If a Republican wins men by 7 points and the Democrat wins women by 6, the gender gap is 13 points.
Averaging together the latest WBUR and Suffolk/Boston Globe polls, Charlie Baker’s gender gap is a scant 4 points. This is not because men and women have suddenly started voting similarly here in Massachusetts. Looking at the Senate race, Elizabeth Warren leads Republican challenger Geoff Diehl among women voters by 41 points, while the race is within a point among men.
If these numbers hold on election day, Warren’s gap would be a new record among recent statewide elections. The previous record was set when Charlie Baker his lost first bid for governor to Deval Patrick in 2010. The gender gap in that race was 37 points. Baker’s successful 2014 run again Martha Coakley featured the third largest recent gap: 34 points.The fact that Baker has closed his gender gap from 34 to 4, in a bad year for Republicans and against national trends, is a testament to the breadth of his support. The 30 percent of voters who are planning on voting for both Baker for governor and Warren for Senate are disproportionately female and Democratic. In other words, there are many more Warren voters willing to cross-over for Charlie Baker than vice versa.
Baker’s cross-party, cross-gender appeal is a notable bright spot in a campaign season that has somehow gotten even darker and more divisive in its final week. In the aftermath of the election, politicians and analysts looking for an alternative to partisan rancor may be giving blue Massachusetts and its red governor a closer look after election day.