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Don’t Forget the Guys!

Cross-posted at PolitickerNJ

While her husband John spent the sweltering summer of 1776 pushing for a new American government, Abigail Adams famously reminded him: “Don’t forget the ladies.” That certainly seems to be a rallying cry for the current U.S. Senate race in New Jersey.

The bottom line, as described in more detail here, is that GOP challenger Joe Kyrillos took a week in August to make a public push for the “women’s vote.”  The campaign of Democratic Senator Bob Menendez immediately pushed back, saying that Kyrillos’ legislative voting record was poor on “women’s issues.”

The partisan gender gap in voting has been well established. While the Republican nominee doesn’t expect to win New Jersey women outright, he is probably hoping to lose by a narrow margin, similar to what Chris Christie accomplished in his successful 2009 run for governor.

It’s worth taking a look at how the exit poll that year broke down the vote by gender.

2009 Christie Corzine Net
Women 45% 50% -5
Men 53% 40% +13

Christie lost the female vote by just 5 points on the strength of questioning whether Corzine’s policies benefited New Jersey families. But gubernatorial elections are not the same as campaigns for national office, where a different set of issues are at play.

So it’s also worth looking at the vote by gender for the last two U.S. Senate races, both won by Democrats

2008 Zimmer  Lautenberg    Net
 Women      41%        58%    -17
 Men      45%        54%      -9
2006  Kean     Menendez     Net
 Women      41%           57%     -16
 Men      48%           49%       -1

In each of those two races, the Republican candidate lost the vote of women by 16 to 17 points. So, how does the current race look when it comes to voting by gender?

2012 Women Kyrillos  Menendez   Net
Quinnipiac 7/18      30%       52%   -22
Monmouth/APP 7/26      29%       43%   -14
FDU Public Mind 8/2      30%       44%   -14

According to the last three polls covering this race, Joe Kyrillos is trailing among women by anywhere from 14 to 22 points. This is much more in line with recent senate elections than it is with the most recent gubernatorial contest.

The polls also reveal another interesting dynamic of this race. Currently, Joe Kyrillos trails among men in the polls, by anywhere from 4 to 10 points.

2012 Men Kyrillos   Menendez   Net
Quinnipiac 7/18      38%       43%     -5
Monmouth/APP 7/26      36%       40%     -4
FDU Public Mind 8/2      36%       46%   -10

Chris Christie may have lost the female vote in 2009, but he won the male vote by 13 points, accounting for his more than 3 point win that year. The two GOP Senate candidates lost the male vote – Dick Zimmer by 9 points in 2008 and Tom Kean, Jr. by 1 point in 2006.

In other words, Christie did not win in 2009 by closing the gender gap. In fact the gap was even wider than the two prior senate contests. He won men by 13 points and lost women by 5 points – an 18 point net gender gap. This compares to a net gap of 8 points in the 2008 senate race and 15 points in 2006.

If Joe Kyrillos wants to close in on Bob Menendez, does he need to do better among women or among men? The answer is both.