Sex, Singles And The Presidency
by Joel Kotkin, Forbes Magazine February 10, 2012 (excerpts)
An analysis comparing the results of the 2008 election and the most recent Gallup surveys with data by demographer Wendell Cox shows a remarkable correlation between the states and regions with the highest proportion of childless women under 45 – the best indicator of offspring-free households — and the propensity to vote Democratic. Overall, the most child-free regions were nearly 85% more likely to vote for Obama in 2008. And according to the most recent Gallup survey, they are similarly inclined to vote Democratic today.
At the top of the list, with 80% of its women under 45 without children, stands the rock-solid blue District of Columbia. Just behind that taxpayer-financed paradise the six states with the highest percentages — Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Hawaii, Vermont and California — also skew Democratic. In each of these states the percentage of childless women exceeds 55%.
The highest percentage of offspring-free women under 45 can be seen as well in such Democratic metropolitan areas as Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and New York In each of these metropolitan areas the percentage of childless woman reached a minimum of 60% well above the national average of 53%. In the urban cores of these regions the percentage can approach Washington’s 80% figure. To a large extent, childlessness correlates with high density and a less affordable housing stock.
The top child-bearing regions are almost all deep-red Republican, both in 2008 as well as today. The top five child-bearing states — Mississippi, Idaho, Wyoming , Oklahoma and Arkansas — all generally tilt toward the GOP. So do the metropolitan areas that have the lowest percentages of childless women: the Texas metros of Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio and Houston, Mormon stronghold Salt Lake City and Memphis. The next five include right-leaning Indianapolis, Charlotte, Louisville, Riverside-San Bernardino and Oklahoma City.
These numbers would be more striking if not for the somewhat higher propensity for child-bearing among African-Americans and Latinos, two core Democratic constituencies. As other surveys have shown, Republicans gains in recent years have come largely from married white families. In contrast, Democrats have lost the support of married people overall since 2008, even while gaining among the unmarried….
Demographically, at least in the short and even medium term, betting on singles and the childless couples seems like a no-brainer. In the past 30 years the percentage of women aged 40 to 44 who have never had children nearly doubled to 19%. At the same time singletons of both sexes are on the rise, numbering over 31 million strong today, up from 27 million in 2000,a growth rate nearly double that of the overall population.
The increasing role of the childless may already be shifting the Democratic Party toward the kind of post-familalistic secularism generally associated with Europe or parts of East Asia. This could partly explain why the Obama Administration has been so willing to challenge the Catholic Church — a traditional home to many working class Democrats — on the issue of offering contraception to its employees. Simply put, in Democratic calculations, secular singletons may now outweigh religious Catholic Democrats.
The importance of singlehood and childlessness is amplified by location. The greatest bastions of non-families are found in the centers of the country’s media, cultural and intellectual life. Single households already constitute a majority in Manhattan and Washington, and they are heading in that direction in Denver, Seattle and San Francisco….
Are there any risks to Democrats — and advantages to Republicans — in this new post-familial tilt? Author and New America fellow Phil Longman argues that in the long run the “greater fertility of conservative segments of society ” could allow the palpably brain-dead GOP (smug, aren’t they?) to inherit the country. Childless singletons may be riding high now, he writes, but as non-breeders their influence ends with their own lifespans…. (oops)
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