This post is originally published on YWCA and is cross-posted with permission.
Today, we and the YWCA USA are excited to release the results of What Women Want 2012: A YWCA USA National Survey of Priorities and Concerns, a comprehensive look at women’s priorities in advance of the 2012 presidential elections in the United States. We interviewed nearly 1,500 women across the U.S. from a wide array of political and ethnic backgrounds to take a deep look at the issues that directly affect women’s lives, their primary concerns this election season, what hardships women have faced in the past few years, and who women want to solve some of America’s biggest problems.
Our most important (and surprising) takeaway is this: 80 percent of women, across all divides and regardless of political affiliation, agree on 80 percent of the issues. From where we’re standing, and despite references to a divided and partisan electoral climate, it seems that most American women regardless of background and life experiences have many of the same priorities for their lives, families, and communities.
Another finding from our survey may not surprise you: women are multi-taskers, and they expect elected officials to also be able to tackle many competing priorities at once. A woman does not have to have directly experienced hardship – such as not being able to afford medical care or losing a job – to be concerned about it.
Other key findings from the survey include:
- The top worries for women: Social Security being there when they retire (67% very/somewhat worried; 47% very worried), having a medical expense that they can’t afford (67% very/somewhat worried; 46% very worried), and having affordable health insurance (67% very/somewhat worried; 45% very worried). A large number of women are concerned about the disappearing middle class (70% very/somewhat worried; 44% very worried); this may explain why so many women are worried about their retirement and access to health care.
- To women, the financial crisis in the U.S. is a top priority; 82% say this should be a top priority for the next president and for Congress. Additionally, three-quarters believe that Medicare and Social Security (75% top priority) and unemployment, including layoffs and jobs sent overseas (74% top priority) should be top priorities.
- Women want Congress to take action on a range of economic and civil rights issues: women strongly agree that the Violence Against Women Act and equal pay are top issues that need to be addressed by elected officials. There is also broad support for Congress to take action on passing hate crimes legislation (68% agree strongly), extending tax cuts for the middle class (64% agree strongly), and passing legislation to end racial profiling (59% agree strongly).
- The most vulnerable communities carry the most burdens: parents (of young children), younger women, and those who are employed part-time. Latinas are more likely to than their counterparts to experience hardships overall. Hispanic women are more likely than most to have experienced five of seven hardships tested, with their top hardships being not receiving medical care (43% have experienced in the last two years) and having their wages, hours, or tips reduced (42% have experienced in the last two years).
- In the presidential election: women prefer President Barack Obama to Governor Mitt Romney. African Americans and Latinas in particular favor the president by wide margins. Married women and seniors favor Governor Romney. Party identification drives women’s attitudes in the presidential contest: Democrats overwhelmingly support President Obama (by an 83-point margin), while Republicans favor Governor Romney by similarly-immense margins (82 points in favor of Governor Romney).
Read the full survey summary here, and share these important results with your friends and family. And don’t forget to join us in Cincinnati and on Twitter for the YWCA’s What Women Want 2012 Town Meeting on September 29, a day-long interactive discussion about these and more important issues. We want to hear your voice in this first-ever all-women meeting: what are your top concerns in this election year?
Celinda Lake is a prominent pollster and political strategist for Democrats and progressives. She currently serves as President of Lake Research Partners. She has focused on women candidates and women’s concerns, having worked for Speaker Pelosi, Governor Janet Napolitano, and Senator Debbie Stabenow.
Kellyanne Elizabeth Conway is Founder and President of the polling company, inc. a privately-held, woman-owned corporation founded in 1995. Kellyanne is one of the most quoted and noted pollsters on the national scene, having provided commentary on over 1,200 television shows on ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, HBO, Comedy Central, MTV and the Fox News Channel, and numerous radio shows and print stories.