There was a lot of talk about the numbers of women who voted for President Obama. A closer look reveals marriage women voted for Governor Romney in similar numbers. In other words, being married or single played role in how people voted.Marriage is more significant than gender in voting patterns.
You don’t hear nearly as much about the rise of single voters, despite the fact that they represent a much more significant trend. Only a few analysts, such as Ruy Teixera, James Carville, and Stanley Greenberg, have emphasized how important singletons were to President Obama’s reelection. Properly understood, there is far less of a “gender” gap in American politics than people think. Yes, President Obama won “women” by 11 points (55 percent to 44 percent). But Mitt Romney won married women by the exact same margin. To get a sense of how powerful the marriage effect is, not just for women but for men, too, look at the exit polls by marital status. Among nonmarried voters—people who are single and have never married, are living with a partner, or are divorced—Obama beat Romney 62-35. Among married voters Romney won the vote handily, 56-42.
Far more significant than the gender gap is the marriage gap. And what was made clear in the 2012 election was that the cohorts of unmarried women and men are now at historic highs—and are still increasing. This marriage gap—and its implications for our political, economic, and cultural future—is only dimly understood.While one can look at marriage from a political perspective, it's certainly much more than this.
As Robert George put it after the election, limited government “cannot be maintained where the marriage culture collapses and families fail to form or easily dissolve. Where these things happen, the health, education, and welfare functions of the family will have to be undertaken by someone, or some institution, and that will sooner or later be the government.” Marriage is what makes the entire Western project—liberalism, the dignity of the human person, the free market, and the limited, democratic state—possible. George continues, “The two greatest institutions ever devised for lifting people out of poverty and enabling them to live in dignity are the market economy and the institution of marriage. These institutions will, in the end, stand or fall together.”The well-being of society is dependent on Americans' beliefs and practices regarding marriage.
Instead of trying to bribe single America into voting Republican, Republicans might do better by making the argument—to all Americans—that marriage is a pillar of both freedom and liberalism. That it is an arrangement which ought to be celebrated, nurtured, and defended because its health is integral to the success of our grand national experiment. And that Julia and her boyfriend ought to go ahead and tie the knot.