Political Behavior

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 587–618 | Cite as

Masculine Republicans and Feminine Democrats: Gender and Americans’ Explicit and Implicit Images of the Political Parties

  • Nicholas J. G. WinterEmail author
Original Paper


During the past three decades Americans have come to view the parties increasingly in gendered terms of masculinity and femininity. Utilizing three decades of American National Election Studies data and the results of a cognitive reaction-time experiment, this paper demonstrates empirically that these connections between party images and gender stereotypes have been forged at the explicit level of the traits that Americans associate with each party, and also at the implicit level of unconscious cognitive connections between gender and party stereotypes. These connections between the parties and masculinity and femininity have important implications for citizens’ political cognition and for the study of American political behavior.


Public opinion Party images Masculinity Femininity Gender Implicit attitudes 



I would like to thank Lisa Frenchik and Kathleen Doherty for their coding assistance. For helpful advice I am grateful to Scott Allard, Larry Bartels, Adam Berinsky, Nancy Burns, Paul Freedman, Danny Hayes, Vince Hutchings, Don Kinder, Brian Nosek, Eric Patashnik, Lynn Sanders, Abby Stewart, Timothy Stewart-Winter, Nicholas Valentino, Ismail White, Vickie Wilson, David Winter, Sara Winter, Tucker Winter, and three anonymous reviewers. I would also like to thank the audiences at the Interdisciplinary Workshop on Politics and Policy at the Center for Political Studies at the University of Michigan, the Department of Politics brownbag at the University of Virginia, and the Social Psychology brownbag at the University of Virginia for helpful feedback.


  1. Adams, G. D. (1997). Abortion: Evidence of an issue evolution. American Journal of Political Science, 41(3), 718–737.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alexander, D., & Andersen, K. (1993). Gender as a factor in the attribution of leadership traits. Political Research Quarterly, 46(3), 527–545.Google Scholar
  3. American National Election Studies. (2005). ANES cumulative data file, 19482004 [dataset]. Stanford, CA/Ann Arbor: Stanford University/University of Michigan.
  4. Baker, P. (1984). The domestication of politics: Women and American Political Society, 1780–1920. The American Historical Review, 89(3), 620–647.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bargh, J. A., & Morsella, E. (2008). The unconscious mind. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3(1), 73–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bastedo, R. W., & Lodge, M. (1980). The meaning of party labels. Political Behavior, 2(3), 287–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Baumer, D. C., & Gold, H. J. (1995). Party images and the American electorate. American Politics Quarterly, 23(1), 33–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bederman, G. (1995). Manliness and civilization: A cultural history of gender and race in the United States, 1880–1917. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  9. Bem, S. L. (1974). The measurement of psychological androgyny. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 42, 155–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bem, S. L. (1981). Gender schema theory: A cognitive account of sex typing. Psychological Review, 88(4), 354–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bem, S. L. (1987). Masculinity and femininity exist only in the mind of the perceiver. In J. M. Reinisch, L. A. Rosenblum, & S. A. Sanders (Eds.), Masculinity/femininity: Basic perspectives (pp. 304–311). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Bloch, R. H. (1987). The gendered meanings of virtue in revolutionary America. Signs, 13(1), 37–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Carlson, J. M., & Boring, M. K. (1981). Androgyny and politics: The effects of winning and losing on candidate image. International Political Science Review, 2(4), 481–491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Carpini, D., Michael, X., & Fuchs, E. R. (1993). The year of the woman? Candidates, voters, and the 1992 elections. Political Science Quarterly, 108(1), 29–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. CAWP (Center for American Women and Politics). (2010). Women in the U.S. congress 2010. New Brunswick, NJ: National Information Bank on Women in Public Office, Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University.
  16. Cohen, J. (1960). A coefficient of agreement for nominal scales. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 20(1), 37–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Constantinople, A. (2005). Masculinity–femininity: An exception to a famous dictum? Feminism and Psychology, 15(4), 385–407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Cooper, F. R. (2008). Our first unisex president? Black masculinity and Obama’s feminine side. Denver University Law Review, 86, 633–661.Google Scholar
  19. Costain, A. N. (1991). After Reagan: New party attitudes toward gender. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 515, 114–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Deaux, K. (1987). Psychological constructions of masculinity and femininity. In J. M. Reinisch, L. A. Rosenblum, & S. A. Sanders (Eds.), Masculinity/femininity: Basic perspectives (pp. 289–303). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Deaux, K., & Emswiller, T. (1974). Explanations of successful performance on sex-linked tasks: What is skill for the male is luck for the female. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 29(1), 80–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Dijksterhuis, A., & Nordgren, L. F. (2006). A theory of unconscious thought. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 1(2), 95–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Dolan, K. (1998). Voting for women in the “year of the woman”. American Journal of Political Science, 42(1), 272–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Dolan, K. (2004). The impact of candidate sex on evaluations of candidates for the U.S. House of representatives. Social Science Quarterly, 85(1), 206–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Dolan, K. (2008). Women as candidates in American politics: The continuing impact of sex and gender. In W. Christina, B. Karen, & L. Baldez (Eds.), Political women and American democracy (pp. 110–127). New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ducat, S. (2004). The wimp factor: Gender gaps, holy wars, and the politics of anxious masculinity. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  27. Duerst-Lahti, G. (2006). Presidential elections: Gendered space and the case of 2004. In S. J. Carroll & R. L. Fox (Eds.), Gender and elections: Shaping the future of American politics (pp. 12–42). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Duerst-Lahti, G. (2008). Seeing what has always been: Opening study of the presidency. PS: Political Science & Politics, 41(04), 733–737.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Duerst-Lahti, G., & Verstegen, (1995). Making something of absence: The ‘year of the woman’ and women’s political representation. In G. Duerst-Lahti & R. M. Kelly (Eds.), Gender power, leadership, and governance (pp. 211–238). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  30. Elder, L. (2008). Whither republican women: The growing partisan gap among women in congress. The Forum, 6(1), 13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Etcheson, N. (1995). Manliness and the political culture of the old northwest, 1790–1860. Journal of the Early Republic, 15(1), 59–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Fahey, A. C. (2007). French and feminine: Hegemonic masculinity and the emasculation of John Kerry in the 2004 presidential race. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 24(2), 132–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Fausto-Sterling, A. (1993). The five sexes: Why male and female are not enough. The Sciences, 33(2), 20–24.Google Scholar
  34. Fazio, R. H. (1990). A practical guide to the use of response latency in social psychological research. In H. Clyde & M. S. Clark (Eds.), Research methods in personality and social psychology (pp. 74–97). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  35. Foushee, H. C., Helmreich, R. L., & Spence, J. T. (1979). Implicit theories of masculinity and femininity: Dualistic or bipolar? Psychology of Women Quarterly, 3(3), 259–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Freeman, J. (1975). The politics of women’s liberation: A case study of an emerging social movement and its relation to the policy process. New York: D. McKay.Google Scholar
  37. Freeman, J. (1987). Whom you know versus whom you represent: Feminist influence in the democratic and republican parties. In M. F. Katzenstein & C. Mueller (Eds.), The women’s movements of the United States and Western Europe: Consciousness, political opportunity, and public policy (pp. 215–244). Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Freeman, J. (1992). Feminism vs. family values: Women at the 1992 democratic and republican conventions. PS: Political Science and Politics, 26(1), 21–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Geer, J. G. (1988). What do open-ended questions measure? Public Opinion Quarterly, 52(3), 365–371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Geer, J. G. (1991). The electorate’s partisan evaluations: Evidence of a continuing democratic edge. Public Opinion Quarterly, 55(2), 218–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Gilens, M. (1988). Gender and support for Reagan: A comprehensive model of presidential approval. American Journal of Political Science, 32(1), 19–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Greenwald, A. G., & Banaji, M. R. (1995). Implicit social cognition: Attitudes, self-esteem, and stereotypes. Psychological Review, 102(1), 4–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Hamill, R., Lodge, M., & Blake, F. (1985). The breadth, depth, and utility of class, partisan, and ideological schemata. American Journal of Political Science, 29(4), 850–870.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Hancock, A.-M. (2007). When multiplication doesn’t equal quick addition: Examining intersectionality as a research paradigm. Perspectives on Politics, 5(1), 63–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Haste, H. (1993). The sexual metaphor. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Hayes, D. (2005). Candidate qualities through a partisan lens: A theory of trait ownership. American Journal of Political Science, 49(4), 908–923.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Hayes, D. (2009a). Feminine democrats, masculine republicans: Gender and party stereotyping in candidate trait attribution. Paper presented at the Midwest Political Science Association annual meeting, Chicago.Google Scholar
  48. Hayes, D. (2009b). Has television personalized voting behavior? Political Behavior, 31(2), 231–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Hoganson, K. L. (1998). Fighting for American manhood: How gender politics provoked the Spanish-American and Philippine-American wars. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Huber, G. A., & Lapinski, J. S. (2006). The ‘race card’ revisited: Assessing racial priming in policy contests. American Journal of Political Science, 50(2), 421–440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Huber, G. A., & Lapinski, J. S. (2008). Testing the implicit–explicit model of racialized political communication. Perspectives on Politics, 6(01), 125–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Huddy, L., & Capelos, T. (2002). Gender stereotyping and candidate evaluations: Good news and bad news for women politicians. In V. C. Ottati, R. S. Tindale, J. Edwards, F. B. Bryant, L. Heath, D. C. O’Connell, Y. Suarez-Balcazar, & E. J. Posavac (Eds.), The social psychology of politics (pp. 29–53). New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum.Google Scholar
  53. Huddy, L., Cassese, E., & Lizotte, M.-K. (2008). Gender, public opinion, and political reasoning. In C. Wolbrecht, K. Beckwith, & L. Baldez (Eds.), Political women and American democracy (pp. 31–49). New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Huddy, L., & Terkildsen, N. (1993). Gender stereotypes and the perception of male and female candidates. American Journal of Political Science, 37(1), 119–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Hurwitz, J., & Peffley, M. (2005). Playing the race card in the post-Willie Horton era: The impact of racialized code words on support for punitive crime policy. Public Opinion Quarterly, 69(1), 99–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Iyengar, S., Valentino, N. A., Ansolabehere, S., & Simon, A. F. (1997). Running as a woman: Gender stereotyping in women’s campaigns. In P. Norris (Ed.), Women, media, and politics (pp. 77–98). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  57. Jeffords, S. (1994). Hard bodies: Hollywood masculinity in the Reagan era. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  58. Kahn, K. F. (1993). Gender differences in campaign messages: The political advertisements of men and women candidates for U. S. Senate. Political Research Quarterly, 46(3), 481–502.Google Scholar
  59. Kahn, K. F. (1996). The political consequences of being a woman: How stereotypes influence the conduct and consequences of political campaigns. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  60. Kang, J. M. (2009). Manliness and the constitution. Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, 32(1), 261–332.Google Scholar
  61. Kann, M. E. (1998). A republic of men: The American founders, gendered language, and patriarchal politics. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  62. Kerber, L. K. (1986). Women of the republic: Intellect and ideology in revolutionary America. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  63. Kim, T. P. (1998). Clarence Thomas and the politicization of candidate gender in the 1992 senate elections. Legislative Studies Quarterly, 23(3), 399–418.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Kimmel, M. S. (1987). The cult of masculinity: American social character and the legacy of the cowboy. In E. M. Kaufman (Ed.), Beyond patriarchy: Essays by men on pleasure, power, and change (pp. 235–249). Toronto: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  65. Kinder, D. R., & Sanders, L. M. (1996). Divided by color: Racial politics and democratic ideals. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  66. Koch, J. W. (2002). Gender stereotypes and citizens’ impressions of house candidates’ ideological orientations. American Journal of Political Science, 46(2), 453–462.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Kucera, H., & Francis, W. N. (1967). Computational analysis of present-day American English. Providence, RI: Brown University Press.Google Scholar
  68. Ladd, E. C. (1997). Media framing of the gender gap. In P. Norris (Ed.), Women, media, and politics (pp. 113–128). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  69. Lakoff, G. (2002). Moral politics: How liberals and conservatives think (2nd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  70. Landis, J. R., & Koch, G. G. (1977). The measurement of observer agreement for categorical data. Biometrics, 33(1), 159–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Leinbach, M. D., Hort, B. E., & Fagot, B. I. (1997). Bears are for boys: Metaphorical associations in young children’s gender stereotypes. Cognitive Development, 12(1), 107–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Lippa, R. A. (2005). Gender, nature, and nurture (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  73. Maccoby, E. E. (1987). The varied meanings of ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’. In J. M. Reinisch, L. A. Rosenblum, & S. A. Sanders (Eds.), Masculinity/femininity: Basic perspectives (pp. 227–239). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  74. Malin, B. J. (2005). American masculinity under Clinton: Popular media and the “crisis of masculinity”. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  75. Mansbridge, J. J. (1985). Myth and reality: The ERA and the gender gap in the 1980 election. Public Opinion Quarterly, 49(2), 164–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Matland, R. E., & King, D. C. (2002). Women as candidates in congressional elections. In C. S. Rosenthal (Ed.), Women transforming congress (pp. 119–145). Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.Google Scholar
  77. McDermott, M. L. (1997). Voting cues in low-information elections: Candidate gender as a social information variable in contemporary United States elections. American Journal of Political Science, 41(1), 270–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Mendelberg, T. (2001). The race card: Campaign strategy, implicit messages, and the norm of equality. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  79. Mendelberg, T. (2008a). Racial priming: Issues in research design and interpretation. Perspectives on Politics, 6(1), 135–140.Google Scholar
  80. Mendelberg, T. (2008b). Racial priming revived. Perspectives on Politics, 6(1), 109–123.Google Scholar
  81. Mihalec, J. (1984). Hair on the president’s chest. The Wall Street Journal, p. 30, 11 May.Google Scholar
  82. Miller, J. M., & Krosnick, J. A. (2000). News media impact on the ingredients of presidential evaluations: Politically knowledgeable citizens are guided by a trusted source. American Journal of Political Science, 44(2), 301–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Miller, D. T., Taylor, B., & Buck, M. L. (1991). Gender gaps: Who needs to be explained? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61(1), 5–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Mueller, C. M. (1988). The politics of the gender gap: The social construction of political influence. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  85. Nelson, T. E., Clawson, R. A., & Oxley, Z. M. (1997). Media framing of a civil liberties conflict and its effect on tolerance. American Political Science Review, 91(3), 567–583.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Orman, J. M. (1987). Comparing presidential behavior: Carter, Reagan, and the Macho presidential style. New York: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  87. Ortner, S. B. (1974). Is female to male as nature is to culture? In M. Z. Rosaldo & L. Lamphere (Eds.), Woman, culture, and society (pp. 67–88). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  88. Ortner, S. B. (1996). Making gender: The politics and erotics of culture. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  89. Petrocik, J. R. (1996). Issue ownership in presidential elections, with a 1980 case study. American Journal of Political Science, 40(3), 825–850.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Petrocik, J. R., Benoit, W. L., & Hansen, G. J. (2003). Issue ownership and presidential campaigning, 1952–2000. Political Science Quarterly, 118(4), 599–626.Google Scholar
  91. Phillips, A. (1991). Engendering democracy. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  92. Phillips, W., & Boroditsky, L. (2003). Can quirks of grammar affect the way you think? Grammatical gender and object concepts. In Proceedings of the 25th annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 928–933). Boston: Cognitive Science Society.Google Scholar
  93. Rahn, W. M. (1993). The role of partisan stereotypes in information processing about political candidates. American Journal of Political Science, 37(2), 472–496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. Rapoport, R. B., Metcalf, K. L., & Hartman, J. A. (1989). Candidate traits and voter inferences: An experimental study. The Journal of Politics, 51(4), 917–932.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Rich, F. (2004). How Kerry became a girlie-man. The New York Times, p. 1, 5 Sep.Google Scholar
  96. Ridgeway, C. L. (2001). Gender, status, and leadership. Journal of Social Issues, 57(4), 637–655.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  97. Sagar, H. A., & Schofield, J. W. (1980). Racial and behavioral cues in black and white children’s perceptions of ambiguously aggressive acts. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39(4), 590–598.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  98. Sanbonmatsu, K. (2002). Democrats, republicans, and the politics of women’s place. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  99. Sanbonmatsu, K., & Dolan, K. (2009). Do gender stereotypes transcend party? Political Research Quarterly, 62(3), 485–494.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  100. Sanders, A. (1988). The meaning of party images. The Western Political Quarterly, 41(3), 583–599.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  101. Sapiro, V. (2003). Theorizing gender in political psychology research. In D. O. Sears, L. Huddy, & R. Jervis (Eds.), Oxford handbook of political psychology (pp. 601–634). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  102. Sapiro, V., & Conover, P. J. (1997). The variable gender basis of electoral politics: gender and context in the 1992 US election. British Journal of Political Science, 27(4), 497–523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  103. Sears, D. O., Sidanius, J., & Bobo, L. (Eds.). (2000). Racialized politics: The debate about racism in America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  104. Sniderman, P. M., & Carmines, E. G. (1997). Reaching beyond race. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  105. Spence, J. T., & Buckner, C. (1995). Masculinity and femininity: Defining the undefinable. In P. J. Kalbfleisch & M. J. Cody (Eds.), Gender, power, and communication in human relationships (pp. 105–138). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  106. Spence, J. T., Helmreich, R., & Helmreich, R. (1978). Masculinity & femininity: Their psychological dimensions, correlates, and antecedents. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  107. Spence, J. T., Helmreich, R. L., & Holahan, C. K. (1979). Negative and positive components of psychological masculinity and femininity and their relationships to self-reports of neurotic and acting out behaviors. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37(10), 1673–1682.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  108. Spruill, M. J. (2008). Gender and America’s turn right. In B. J. Schulman & J. E. Zelizer (Eds.), Rightward bound: Making America conservative in the 1970s (pp. 71–89). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  109. Terkildsen, N., & Schnell, F. (1997). How media frames move public opinion: An analysis of the women’s movement. Political Research Quarterly, 50(4), 879–900.Google Scholar
  110. Trilling, R. J. (1976). Party image and electoral behavior. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  111. Valentino, N. A., Hutchings, V. L., & White, I. K. (2002). Cues that matter: How political ads prime racial attitudes during campaigns. American Political Science Review, 96(1), 75–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  112. Wilson, T. D. (2002). Strangers to ourselves: Discovering the adaptive unconscious. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  113. Winter, N. J. G. (2008). Dangerous frames: How ideas about race and gender shape public opinion. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  114. Wittenbrink, B. (2007). Measuring attitudes through priming. In B. Wittenbrink & N. Schwarz (Eds.), Implicit measures of attitudes (pp. 17–58). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  115. Wolbrecht, C. (2000). The politics of women’s rights: Parties, positions, and change. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  116. Zaller, J. (1992). The nature and origins of mass opinion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Woodrow Wilson Department of PoliticsUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations