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Do women candidates fare better than men?

October 28th, 2009


Angus Reid Strategies

Does Cameron’s plan make electoral sense?

It’s one of those bits of received wisdom you often hear from political campaigners – you get a small but noticeable boost if your candidate is a woman particularly if she is the only one on the ballot.

Well as part of a poll in the wake of the Tory all-women short-list row Angus Reid Strategies, who do PB’s monthly voting intention survey, have come up with a number of findings about gender and voting behaviour one of which I feature above.

The numbers suggest that the sex of the candidate does matter. While men are slightly less likely to vote for a woman this is more than counter-balanced by female voters who told the pollster that they were much more likely to do so.

What’s quite significant is that this seems to matter much more to older women than their younger counterparts and this grouping, of course, is much more likely to actually turnout.

But the poll found strong opposition to the notion of all-women short-lists which was rejected by 58% to 23%.

The overall message is that in key marginals the gender of the candidate could make a difference. Maybe that’s something that was behind Cameron’s desire to get more women selected for key seats although he seems to have stepped back from his compulsion plan.

I’ve been at local election counts in multi-member wards where you see a marked number of ballot papers where voters have made their choice by gender and not according to the party list – and the beneficiaries are the women.

Mike Smithson