Polling data are useful; they provide a good snapshot of what people are thinking at a given moment. But they are just that – an instant picture of the political landscape. The candidate poised to save the party one week is sent to the showers the next.
Many discussions of the gender gap misinterpret its meaning. By definition, a gender gap in voting is the margin of difference between the male and female vote for a candidate – not the difference between women themselves as they choose between the candidates.
In a recent poll by the Pew Research Center, women preferred President Obama to Republican Mitt Romney by 20 points (a large gap to be sure). That’s the kind of polling number that has Republicans such as Ms. Cary so upset, but it doesn’t tell us anything about differences between men and women. The gender gap revealed in the same poll (58 percent of women preferring Mr. Obama versus 49 percent of men) was only 9 points – still a gap, but by no means a chasm.