Take education. One-third of unmarried people 25 and older in 2011 were high-school graduates. A single female high-school graduate is more likely to be a single mother than her college-educated counterpart.
Then there’s race. Both Hispanics and African Americans are Democratic-leaning groups with large and growing populations of single women. Hispanic and black single women are also more likely to be mothers than other ethnicities. And voting rates over the years differ among women of different ethnicities: The number of white women voting in recent elections has remained steady, while turnout among Asians, blacks, and Hispanic women has steadily grown.
And let’s not forget age. In the cultural imagination, all single women may be Girls, but single women are a growing segment at the older end of the spectrum. As the number of Americans older than 65 grows, so does the number of older unmarried people; in 2009, 17 percent of single people were senior citizens. Though 64-year-olds are surprisingly fond of Beyoncé's music, they're less concerned about birth control or the establishing their first career. But women are more likely to outlive their male counterparts, making living on a single income more of a concern.
Believers in the Beyoncé voter point to Virginia’s 2013 governor’s race as evidence. Democrat Terry McAuliffe branded his opponent Ken Cuccinelli a part of a “Republican war on women” and emphasized GOP efforts to restrict abortion in the state en route to winning single women by 42 points.
Does that prove Watters' theory? I think there's a strong argument that bigger economic factors underly these dynamics and explain them.
There are 89 unmarried men for every 100 women. By the numbers, it isn’t easy for a heterosexual woman to find a mate. Even if she were able to, marriage has been delayed to historic levels. Marriage is expensive, and single women are avoiding it at historic levels, no small thanks to the increasing liberalization of social norms and unmarried cohabitation.
So what is the secret to "getting" single women? Younger single women were caught in the throes of a recession, amassed a mountain of student debt, and are now struggling to pay their rent or attempting to pay off mortgages for homes, just like their male counterparts.
While many women do care a great deal about contraception and equal pay, the biggest concern most women have right now is how the leaders we elect will create a job-friendly environment. Since single women earn less than single men and married women, their jobs are extremely important, especially if they're trying to get health insurance for themselves and/or their children. They were hit especially hard by unemployment during the Great Recession. And job security isn't just on the minds of 20-somethings: Senior single women are facing increasing economic insecurity too. In other words, birth control isn't what will get single women (or for that matter, anyone) to the polls come November. It's jobs and economic stability.