Understanding the unmarried share of the electorate will be increasingly important in coming years. Married voters are still a significantly larger share of the electorate than unmarried ones. But young people are marrying later, if at all. In 2021, according to General Social Survey data, only 15 percent of 18–29-year-old women were married, half of what it was in 2000. The young today are more ethnically diverse, less conventionally religious, and more Democratic or independent than previous generations.
Two trends confirm the liberalism of young women today. An Astin study of entering college freshmen found that in 2016, before the Me Too movement exploded, 41 percent of the women self-identified as liberal or far left, but only 28.9 percent of the young men did. Between 1966, when this survey began, and 1980, men were more liberal. The gap shrank during the Reagan administration, and since the late 1980s, women have been more liberal/left than men in their first year of college. Our AEI colleague Dan Cox showed a similar pattern using Gallup data from 1998 through 2021, with 44 percent of young women describing themselves as liberal in 2021 compared to 25 percent of young men. Additionally, as the August American Perspectives Survey shows, the Dobbs decision appears to be a significant generational moment for young women, who saw the decision as more ominous than their male counterparts. If young women carry these attitudes with them as they age, Democrats will reap the rewards.