The mainstream media is enamored with the gender gap — poking fun at Republicans for supposedly being unable to attract women voters. Republicans have responded by pointing out that they do well with married women with families.
New York Times magazine noticed the fertility gap with an article that shows women with families and women with larger families are more likely to vote Republican.
But another, even more powerful feminine factor was at play in this election, as it has been in races past: Almost invisibly over the past decade, family size in America has emerged as our deepest political dividing line.
Stunningly, the postponement of marriage and parenting — the factors that shrink the birth rate — is the very best predictor of a person’s politics in the United States, over even income and education levels, a Belgian demographer named Ron Lesthaeghe has discovered. Larger family size in America correlates to early marriage and childbirth, lower women’s employment, and opposition to gay rights — all social factors that lead voters to see red.
The converse, according to futurist Joel Kotkin, marks “the rise of post-familialism,” overturning the notion that a woman’s life requires a wedding dress and at least two kids to dutifully rear. David Brooks devoted a column to this report Friday, and his reaction demonstrates the red blood spilling over our shift to a freer attitude toward life and family choices. “People are not better off when they are given maximum personal freedom to do what they want,” Brooks wrote. “They’re better off when they are enshrouded in commitments that transcend personal choice — commitments to family, God, craft and country.”
The pro-life group Eagle Forum says the logic makes sense.
“This makes sense to me. Families with kids are more likely to have a future time orientation, a desire for family autonomy, and a belief in traditional American values,” the group said.
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The phenomenon is not new, according to the magazine.
“In the 2004 presidential election, while swift boats sailed cross the headlines, fertility rates in states that voted for Bush were 12 percent higher than they were in states that picked Kerry,” it said.