Stepping Up and Standing Out: Women’s Political Participation in 2020
Women of all ages and political affiliations — particularly millennials and women of color—have become more politically engaged since 2016, a trend that is likely to continue in the 2020 cycle. Our new research gives further insights into what motivates women and how they plan to participate this year.
1. The 2016 election marked a new era of women’s involvement in political issues and campaigns and they show no sign of stopping in the 2020 cycle.
- Only 16% of all surveyed women voters said they have become less politically involved in the last few years, with more than half (55%) saying their involvement has stayed the same, and almost one third (29%) reporting increased involvement.
- The survey shows that Democratic women have been especially motivated to actively participate in the political process, with 35% saying that they have gotten more involved in politics in the last few years, compared to 27% of Republican women and 23% of women who consider themselves Independent.
- Increased participation is notable among two key voting blocs: 41% of millennial women (18-34 years old) and 36% of women of color say that they have gotten more involved recently.
- Looking ahead to the 2020 election, the trend of increased involvement is likely to continue, with 31% of women saying they will become more involved and only 9% saying they will be less engaged.
- Among Democratic women, 39% say they will be more involved this year along with 40% of millennial woman and 40% of women of color.
2. Women are engaging in a range of activities, but are particularly focused on encouraging friends or family to vote or get involved in a campaign or issue.
- 42% of respondents said that they have encouraged friends or family members to vote or become involved in a campaign or issue—compared to just 35% of men.
- Millennial women are leading the charge and taking to the streets— nearly one-fourth of them (23%) reported that they have attended a march, rally, or protest since 2016.
- On every key political action, women of color report being more politically engaged than white women—they volunteer their time, donate to candidates, attend marches, sign petitions, and encourage their friends to get involved at higher rates.
3. Despite increased involvement in political issues, women voters identified time (i.e. being too busy working and/or taking care of family) as the biggest barrier to getting politically involved.
- The survey asked voters to choose their top reason for not getting involved among a list of several potential barriers: 22% of women said they were too busy working or taking care of their families as the top reason they didn’t get involved compared to 12% of men who identified work or family obligations as their main barrier.
4. Confidence in their own political knowledge is also a barrier unique to women.
- Despite comparable news consumption, women are 3 times more likely to choose “I don’t know enough about political issues to get involved” as their top reason for not getting involved in politics (15% of women vs. 5% of men).
5. Women, on either side of the political aisle, are primarily motivated by the aspirations they hold for the country.
- We tested several reasons for why voters have gotten involved in politics in the past few years, and the top two are I want to make my country a better place and I want to make sure our country moves forward not backward.
6. Women are inspired by other women’s political involvement, especially when it comes to supporting women running for office.
- Women are more likely to volunteer or donate to female candidates, especially Democratic and millennial women, as well as women of color.
The survey was conducted nationwide among 800 likely 2020 presidential voters (including 600 women and 200 men) during December 5-12, 2019.Full data report available here.