A progressive agenda aimed at helping working and unmarried women makes for a strong political message, according to new research from Democracy Corps and the Voter Participation Center. Overall, a substantial 61 percent of unmarried women believe that the “national political debate in the country just isn’t dealing with issues that matter” to working and single women. As Stan Greenberg, Erica Seifert, and Page Gardner write:
These voters are grounded in an economy in which access to the middle class is increasingly difficult—particularly for unmarried women who support their households on a single income. As a result, this survey finds clear evidence that unmarried women are moved by a working women’s agenda – that includes, in addition to protecting Medicare and investing in education, support for women-owned small businesses, expanding maternity and sick leave, and enforcing pay equity.
The survey asked unmarried women to compare two hypothetical Democratic policy agendas: one focused on women’s preventive health (e.g., birth control access and mammograms) care versus one focused on women in the workplace. Repondents were 11 points more likely to support Democrats after hearing a a slate of policies aimed at helping working women, including support for women-owned businesses, an increase in the minimum wage, more available and affordable childcare, pay equity, and expanded paid family and sick leave.
The working women’s policy framing also led to increased support for the Democrats’ broader middle class investment message over a Republican deficit-focused one –- a huge +24 point margin –- and produced an +18 point margin for Democrats over Republicans on which party would better address “our long term problems:”
The lesson from these findings is clear — taking strong progressive steps to help unmarried women succeed is not just good policy. It’s also great politics.