A new AP/GfK poll shows that among women who are likely to vote, Republican congressional candidates lead 44 percent to 42. Among male likely voters, they lead 50–36. The findings are similar to the exit polls in the last midterm elections elections, in 2010, when Republicans narrowly won women (49–48 percent) and men were six points more likely to back the Republican candidates. Nothing special seems to be happening to the gender gap–the difference in how men and women vote. Republicans are doing relatively well among men and women alike.
Coverage of the elections does not always convey this truth. National Journal has a story today, for example, saying that Democrats may be losing their touch with women. One of its top data points: In the Arkansas Senate race, Republican Tom Cotton has a three-point lead among women (46–43) over incumbent Democrat Mark Pryor. Cotton, however, is winning men 55–37 percent in the same poll. In 2010, running against an incumbent Democratic senator (a woman, for that matter) in Arkansas, Republican candidate John Boozman got, best as we can tell, 61 percent of men and 56 percent of women. Cotton’s gender gap is bigger (he does nine points worse among women where Boozman did five points worse) and his overall support is lower. The real story here has little to do with distinctive trends among women. To the extent this poll is giving us an accurate picture of the race, it shows that Arkansans of both sexes are leaning Republican, but the men a little more so. That’s also what the AP/GfK poll says about the country as a whole, and it’s what one would expect in a good Republican year.