Women and Politics

September 17, 1982

Report Outline
Reagan's ‘Woman Problem’
Women as Politicians
Political Women's Problems
Special Focus

Reagan's ‘Woman Problem’

Evidence of Gender Gap in Opinion Polls

As election day 1982 approaches, one of the hottest political topics is a phenomenon known as the “gender gap.” The results of the 1980 presidential election and numerous public opinion polls taken during President Reagan's first 20 months in office indicate a political parting-of-the-ways between men and women. Provoked by the president's opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment and his agenda of social program cuts and increased military spending, women have reported higher negative evaluations of Reagan and the Republican Party than have men.

In a Harris Survey released Aug. 17, 65 percent of the women questioned and 58 percent of the men had a negative opinion of Reagan's job performance; 42 percent of the men and 34 percent of the women gave the president a positive rating. The numbers were consistent with those recorded in a March Harris poll, when women were also more negative (62 to 54 percent) and less positive (37 to 44 percent) than men about Reagan's job performance.

Sometimes pollsters will come up with different results to similar questions, but the gender gap appears to be no statistical fluke. The differences between the sexes in their attitudes toward Reagan recorded in an Aug. 17 Washington Post-ABC News poll were identical to those in the Harris Survey released the same day. In an Associated Press-NBC News poll released Aug. 9, 7 percent fewer women than men rated Reagan's job performance “excellent” or “good,” and 6 percent more saw him as “only fair” or “poor.” These results mesh with surveys conducted by the Gallup organization, CBS News-New York Times, and other pollsters.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Women's Rights
Apr. 03, 2020  The Equal Rights Amendment
Apr. 17, 2015  Girls' Rights
Apr. 03, 2012  Women's Rights
Nov. 13, 2009  Women in the Military
May 2008  Women's Rights
Mar. 21, 2008  Women in Politics
Feb. 28, 1997  Feminism's Future
Oct. 13, 1989  Should Women Be Allowed into Combat?
Jul. 28, 1989  Do Pregnant Women Lose Legal Rights?
Sep. 17, 1982  Women and Politics
Dec. 15, 1978  Equal Rights Fight
Jun. 23, 1978  The Rights Revolution
Jun. 13, 1975  International Women's Year
Jul. 05, 1973  Women's Consciousness Raising
Oct. 11, 1972  Women Voters
Aug. 05, 1970  Status of Women
Feb. 20, 1956  Women in Politics
Jan. 24, 1951  Womanpower in Mobilization
Apr. 04, 1946  Equal Rights Amendment
May 31, 1927  The Woman's Vote in National Elections
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