, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 283-307

Culture Wars, Secular Realignment, and the Gender Gap in Party Identification

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Changes in the U.S. partisan balance over the past decade are often attributed to the enhanced political salience of cultural issues. Yet as white men have continued to become more Republican in recent years, white women increasingly identify with the Democrats. To the extent that cultural issues are influencing this partisan change, men and women must be responding differently to this cultural agenda. Using a pooled ANES data set from 1988 through 2000, I explore the extent to which cultural values are responsible for this gender realignment. Findings suggest that salient cultural issues influence the partisan choices of both men and women, however in somewhat different ways. For women, the issues themselves—reproductive rights, female equality, and legal protection for homosexuals—have become increasingly important determinants of party identification. For men, the influence of cultural conflict on partisanship is argued to be equally pervasive, albeit less direct.