For the first time in many election cycles, martial status was dropped by the major networks and newspapers as a question in the national exit survey. This decision was ill-considered and unfortunate, in that it deprived analysts of the 2010 elections a key demographic variable in interpreting the results. Fortunately, other post-election research sponsored by the Women’s Voices. Women Vote Action Fund and other groups, help fill in this gap in our collective knowledge.

Key Findings

Some key findings of this research include:

  • The marriage gap—the difference in margin between married women and unmarried women—continues to drive American politics. In fact, the marriage gap this year was twice as large as the gender-gap (30 points and 13 points, respectively).
  • That said, one reason Democrats lost the congress is they lost support among younger voters and unmarried women. In 2008, unmarried women supported Democrats with 69 percent of the vote. This number dropped to 57 percent in 2010. Losses among older, white unmarried women are largely responsible for this decline.
  • Notably, in California, Democrats held their margin among unmarried women and were rewarded with two major statewide wins. Barbara Boxer held 67 percent of the unmarried women in California according to a Democracy Corps/Los Angeles Times survey.
  • There were opportunities in the 2010 cycle for Democrats to fare better among younger voters and unmarried women. Messaging developed by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and the Women’s Voices. Women Vote Action Fund proved extremely powerful among these voters.

More details about the findings among these key voters can be found here.


This data comes from a post-election survey of 2010 voters taken November 1-3, commissioned by the Women’s Voices. Women Vote Action Fund. Where possible, it draws from two other post-election surveys sponsored by Democracy Corps and the Campaign for America’s Future, as well as a bi-partisan survey conducted by Democracy Corps and Resurgent Republic. The total number of records in the combined data base is 2,587.