Interesting article in the News&Observer yesterday about some women being unhappy with Bev Perdue.
I think the first thing that should be noted when talking about Perdue and women is that she actually was not the beneficiary of an unusual gender gap when she was elected last fall. Exit polls showed Perdue winning 52% of the female vote and 47% of the male vote. The gender gap was larger in both the Presidential race, where Barack Obama won 55% of the female vote and 43% of the male vote, and in the Senate race where Kay Hagan 55% of the female vote and 47% of the male vote.
So despite the fact that Perdue was the only woman running against a man at the top of the ticket last year, she actually earned a smaller percentage of the female vote than both Obama and Hagan.
That trend has continued in approval polling over the course of this year. In our July, August, and September polls Barack Obama averaged a 50% rating with women and a 43% rating with men for an average gender gap of 7 points. Perdue has averaged a 27% rating with women and a 25% rating with men for an average gender gap of just 2 points.
What does it all mean?
Perdue, despite her status as the state's first female Governor, has no unique appeal to women voters. She got few, if any, extra votes last fall from Republicans or independent women who wanted a woman in that office. Folks who would normally have voted Republican still did. And women aren't cutting Perdue any slack for the issues she's had during her first eight months as Governor, evaluating her more or less the same way men are.
It's certainly significant on paper that Perdue is the state's first woman Governor, but that seems to be having little impact on her overall political standing.