Gender at the Illinois Primary

Betsy Fischer Martin | Mar 18, 2020


Illinois was one of three states holding its primary on March 17th, in the midst of the Coronavirus health crisis.

Covid-19 also impacted Edison Research/National Election Pool who usually conducts the in-person exit polling used by news organizations, researchers, and this blog to analyze who voted for whom.

Instead, some news organizations are using online and phone polling in the days leading up to the election. The below is based on data provided by the New York Times (from surveys conducted for the Associated Press by NORC at the University in Chicago).  It is the best available estimate of voter demographics.

What do we know about the women of Illinois who voted in the Democratic primary?

In terms of turnout, women made up a majority of Democratic primary voters – totaling 58% of the electorate.


Source: 3/17/20 New York Times/Associated Press Pre-Primary Poll

Overall, Joe Biden won female Democratic primary voters with 61% compared to Sanders with 34%.


Source: 3/17/20 New York Times/Associated Press Pre-Primary Poll

And what about the gender gap – how did women differ from men in who they supported?

Men were more likely than women to support Sanders (a 4 point gap) while women were more likely than men to support Biden (an 8 point gap).


Source: 3/17/20 New York Times/Associated Press Pre-Primary Poll

Note: The Illinois Republican Party did hold a presidential preference contest with President Trump receiving 96% of the vote and businessman (and perennial candidate) Rocky De La Fuente receiving 5% of the vote. There is no exit poll data available.

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