Unmarried women, people of color, and millennials could cast a majority of votes in every election — but only if they vote.
While our overall goal is to increase civic participation among the whole Rising American Electorate, we’ve always been particularly focused on unmarried women — women who have never been married, or who are separated, divorced, or widowed. We were the first organization to identify unmarried women as a key political group and to recognize marital status as a major factor in women’s political participation.
Unmarried women play a crucial role in our political life—and policymakers and other elected officials ignore unmarried women at their own peril.
Unmarried women are one of the fastest-growing demographic groups in the United States; between 2000 and 2014, the number of unmarried women in the U.S. increased by over 12 million.
By the 2016 election, a majority of voting-eligible women in the United States will be unmarried:
Compared to married women, unmarried women have a lower median income, are more likely to live in poverty, and more than three times as likely to earn the minimum wage or less. They’re also more likely to be unemployed, less likely to be homeowners, and more likely not to have health coverage.
To learn more about the demographic and economic characteristics of unmarried women, check the Voter Participation Data Center.
In the 2016 election, unmarried women will make up the majority of vote-eligible women in the United States—but too many of them aren’t registered to vote. In the 2014 election, unmarried women were a slim minority of vote-eligible women—but only cast two-thirds as many votes as married women:
That’s why it’s so important to us to help unmarried women register to vote and show up at the polls. Unmarried women could be the key to understanding the whole of the 2016 election—but only if they’re registered and vote.
“The Marriage Gap” is the phrase we use to describe the differences in voting behavior between married women and unmarried women—and those differences aren’t inconsequential.
Despite its crucial importance in American elections, the marriage gap doesn’t occupy a central place in our political conversation. Too many pollsters don’t break down marital status in their polling, and too many political commentators talk about “women” as if they’re a single electoral bloc, rather than focusing on the unique characteristics of unmarried women in the American electorate.