As the Republican primary debates kick off on August 23, candidates in the 2024 election need to think about how to appeal to Republican voters. As one of the leading organizations researching the policy preferences and engagement of women voters, All In Together plans to roll out new research illuminating how Republican women are thinking about the Republican Presidential primary and the 2024 elections as well as tools and resources to help them navigate it. In advance of the first Republican Primary Debate on August 2023, AIT has released a brief on where each of the candidates stand on some of the issues most important to women.
Why does this matter?
Republican women are especially invested in this election. In a Gender on the Ballot survey, 83% of them said this election would be the most important of their lifetime or more important than most, well above the average of 69% for women overall.
These opinions are significant given their consistent voter turnout rate. According to Pew Research, 84% of women who voted Republican in 2018 voted in the 2022 midterm elections, compared to only 76% of women who voted Democrat in 2018.
Who is in this electorate?
Despite their consistent turnout, Republican women make up a smaller portion of the electorate overall. According to the 2020 American National Election Study – 36% of women identified as a Republican and 45% of women identified as a Democrat. But many Independent and unaffiliated women voters still lean towards the Republicans, something important for candidates to keep in mind in the general election, as well as in states with open primary elections. In the 2022 midterms, 48% of women voted for Republicans and 51% voted for Democrats.
White women have formed the base of the female Republican electorate in recent elections (with 2018 being an outlier), despite college educated white women becoming an increasingly important part of the Democratic party base. However there is also growing diversity among this electorate. While only 5% of black women have voted for Republican candidates in the 2018, 2020, and 2022 elections, a share of Hispanic women have shifted towards the Republican party since 2018, with only 23% voting R in 2018 compared to 33% and 34% in 2020 and 2022 respectively. Asian women voters are similar to Hispanic women, with about 30% voting Republican, though this varies greatly among ethnicities.
What do they care about?
We have found that the top issues in 2024 for women overall are guns, abortion, and cost of living. However, among Republican women the issue priorities are slightly different, with cost of living the top concern, followed by immigration. Crime, abortion, and guns are all tied closely for third.
Many Republican women hold moderate positions on abortion
- Close to 50% of them would support a Republican candidate who openly supported some level of abortion access
- Less than half support a ban on mifepristone or other forms of medication abortion, and over a third oppose such a ban
- However, 64% support a restrictions on abortion after 6 weeks
They are divided on how they want government to approach the issue – 39% support a federal law restricting abortion access, 34% say it should be decided at the state level, and 23% say there should be a federal law guaranteeing abortion access
- Republican men are more favorable to a state-by-state approach, with close to half supporting that option, and about a third supporting a federal law restricting abortion
- Republican women are the most pessimistic about the economy, with close to two-thirds believing the economy will get worse in six months when we asked the question in May
- Housing is a top economic concern – 64% of them say it is very likely it will become harder to afford to buy a home in their local area
- 54% think there will be an upcoming economic recession
- Similarly to Democratic and Independent women, a majority of Republican women support federal paid leave and a federal tax credit or subsidy for childcare.
- However, unlike Democratic and Indpendent women, a majority of Republican women also support reducing the amount of money the government spends on social welfare programs
Despite having a much lower fear of mass shootings compared to Democratic and Independent women, Republican women are open to many gun policies aimed at reducing gun violence
- The largest gender divide in the party is on restricting the ability to purchase certain types of firearms – 61% of Republican women are supportive of this compared to 41% of Republican men
- 72% are supportive of so called “red flag” laws, that allow law enforcement to take guns away from those who present a danger to themselves or others
- 70% support restricting people under the age of 21 from buying firearms