The ‘Liberal Gap’ Opening Up Between American Men & Women

According to conventional wisdom, how conservative or liberal someone is would largely be determined by their age.

However, as Statista’s Katharina Buchholz details below, while this used to be the case, a major shift has taken place in the United States and elsewhere.

As of 2023, gender is a better indicator of U.S. political leanings – as seen in data collected by Gallup.

As of last year, 18 to 29-year-old men as well as women over the age of 65 in the U.S. were equally likely to describe themselves as liberal or very liberal.

A quarter in each group did so.

This is a far cry from the gap of around 10 percentage points that existed between the two groups in the late 1990s – when Gallup’s data begins – as well as in the early 2010s.

Back then, both young men and women were the leading liberals of the country, while older generations were less likely to label themselves as politically liberal.

Infographic: The ‘Liberal Gap’ Opening up Between U.S. Men And Women | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

The trend of liberalism took off among women, especially young and middle-aged women, in 2013, when Femen activists and HBO drama Girls were the feminist rage of the day.

The election of Donald Trump as U.S. president in 2016 and accompanying women’s marches as well as the #MeToo movement in 2017 seem to have fueled liberalism in these age groups initially.

However, liberal sentiment among females actually peaked in the 30-49 demographic in 2018.

It continued its rise in younger women until 2020 and 2021, but has slumped since then even when the Supreme Court overturned abortion precedent Roe v. Wade in 2022. Despite all this, liberalism in women is near the highest point it has ever been.

The story is much different for men, where the biggest increase in liberal sentiment in any age group was just 5 percentage points between 1999 and 2023. While older men became slightly more liberal, liberalism among young U.S. men between 18 and 29 years old gained by just 1 percentage point in a quarter century.

Author Susan Faludi has labeled this a backlash against feminism, which according to her research is a phenomenon that occurred before at times when women have made headway. Other feminist organizers also speak of polarization and a hardening of positions around feminism and the advancement of women.

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