Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Unmarried Voters Carry Virginia

In yesterday’s gubernatorial election in Virginia, Terry McAuliffe defeated Ken Cuccinelli by about a 2.4-point margin. The results were hardly the “squeaker” that so many people were saying last night when an eighth of the votes had not yet been counted. It was a race that was being watched nationally to see how a culture-war conservative might do in a “swing state.” The results can hardly be encouraging for social conservatives who think they shouldn’t have to pull any punches when they criticize students, singles, union members, and other groups who they see as responsible for social decline. One of the most surprising results seen in exit polls was the margin of victory for the Democrat McAuliffe among unmarried voters. From Ariel Edwards-Levy’s story in Huffington Post:

. . . unmarried voters, especially women, preferred McAuliffe by wide margins. He beat Cuccinelli by 25 points among unmarried men and 42 points among unmarried women.

This is a notable trend not just because there are so many unmarried voters. Unmarried voters also are more likely to be paying attention when they vote. Married voters have a greater tendency to choose their vote based on things they heard 10 or 20 years ago. Unmarried voters, by contrast, are more likely to vote based on current information. Unmarried voters, then, give a better indication of where the electorate is going over the next 10 or 20 years.

And what that indicates is a 2-to-1 margin of victory of a Democratic candidate over a Republican candidate in a swing state like Virginia. That will certainly be a problem for culture-war Republicans — and given the election result, it is a problem already.