By MORGAN WILT
WASHINGTON- With the possibility of the country electing its first woman president just a few days away, women voters could hold the key to her electoral victory.
“My guess would be final numbers will be 56-57 percent women vote,” Donna Lent, President of the National Women’s Political Caucus, said.
“Even before the Democratic convention, we saw excitement growing among women about the prospect of having a highly qualified woman on the ballot,” Lent added. “To see, as President Obama has said, the most qualified person to ever run for president, be a woman, it is what we have worked for, for so many years.”
All those years started in 1964, when women began joining the work force during the second-wave feminism movement. The 1964 presidential election was the first time the number of women voters surpassed men.
Lisa Maatz, the vice president for the American Association of University Women analyzed the change in voting numbers during that year’s election.
“There was a second wave of the women’s movement. It was a time when there was an acceptance of women in the workplace and an increase in civil rights laws,” Maatz said. “Put that together with the fact that in previous years, when women voted, they voted as their husbands told them to, and you’ll see a change in the numbers of women voters.”
Data from the Center for American Women in Politics show that 39.2 million women voted in the 1964 election compared to 37.5 million men.
“There was an increased independence, increasing education levels, increasing economic independence, and more women in the workplace,” Maatz said.
Maatz says that the key for Democrats in this election is to continue to drive up the female vote.
“You cannot win without women voters. Campaigns are now designed around ‘can we turn out women voters?’ If you get Democratic women out, you’ll win,” Maatz said. “Women and women of color are the two groups you need in order to win.”
In recognition of this, the Clinton campaign has made outreach to women a priority in the campaign’s closing days, with Michelle Obama playing a large surrogate role, President Barack Obama warning male voters to avoid sexist behavior and the candidate herself drawing attention to Republican nominee Donald Trump’s bombastic history of offensive remarks against women.
Sabrina Schaeffer, the Executive Director of the conservative Independent Women’s Voice, however, cautioned that the presence of a prominent woman on the ballot may still not provide as big of a boost as some would expect.
“This comes down to the candidate,” she said. “Some Republicans say, ‘look, no matter your feelings towards Donald Trump, he’s better than the other candidate.’ “It’s interesting that we have this sort of collective yawn over Clinton. We have the first woman candidate and she isn’t getting the enthusiasm we expected.