On July 19, 1848, over 300 (mostly) women gathered for the Seneca Falls Convention,…
The Lay of the Land for Women Voters in 2022
Cancelled concerts. The first day of Zoom school. FaceTime with friends. We all remember the surreal and frightening early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the two years and one month since our country went into a state of emergency, almost one million American lives have been lost to the virus. Many of the financial and health-related impacts are still reverberating—with the permanent impacts yet to be determined. And, according to our latest Gender on the Ballot poll, a rising number of American women no longer believe that life will ever go back to “normal.”
In 2021, 26% of women we surveyed said that life “will never go back to normal” due to the pandemic. This year, an additional 14% of women expressed the same sentiment, for a total of 40% of women overall. Adding in the 25% of women who told us they believe that life will go back to normal “in a few years,” that’s two-thirds of women who do not see pandemic life ending any time soon (compared to just over half last year).
Our poll, conducted earlier this year in partnership with Benenson Strategies, explored how women voters are faring in 2022—what issues are top-of-mind, and how the pandemic has shaped their views on politics, domestic life, and more. Respondents had a few choice words to illustrate their views right now: “Chaotic.” “In trouble.” “Crazy.” “Unpredictable.” “Scary.” Women told us that they are economically stressed, struggling with mental health, and concerned about the state of the country.
The workplace is one area in particular where women indicated that they think life has irrevocably shifted. A full 77% of respondents said that they believe the pandemic will have long-lasting impacts on women and our careers, even after things “go back to normal.” That could be due to the disproportionate impact of the virus and related economic ramifications on women, and especially mothers. Our poll found that a third of mothers have quit their jobs to take care of their kids since the pandemic began. And about a third of say they’ve fallen behind in their careers—passing up opportunities or promotions at work—over the last two years.
We learned after March 2020 that it is impossible to predict how life could shift due to this historic pandemic, and what may be on the horizon. Our poll suggests that women are adjusting to pandemic life, and they are applying the experiences of the last two years to policy opinions. For example, 82% of all women, including 73% of Republican women, agree that we need to expand Medicaid, Medicare, and the Affordable Care Act. Almost 80% of women indicated that the pandemic has made them more supportive of paid sick leave and paid family or maternity leave.
As I’ve written before, women—specifically “suburban women”—can be a hot topic in election seasons, and it’s important to remember that women are not a monolithic voting bloc. With the 2022 Midterms in just 214 days, we will be watching to see how the rising consensus among women that life in our country has permanently shifted will play out at the ballot box.