Republicans Blame Single Women for Their Midterm Election Losses

Interview with Amanda Marcotte, author and senior politics writer with, conducted by Scott Harris

After the big “red wave” of Republican party midterm election victories failed to materialize, exit polls found that key issues which brought out a near-record number of voters included opposition to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that eliminated federal protection for women’s reproductive rights, widespread concern about the Republican party’s threat to democracy and the pledge by some candidates to subvert future election results if GOP candidates didn’t win. Of the more than 370 GOP candidates who denied or questioned the 2020 election results that ran for the U.S. Senate, House and statewide office in 2022, alarmingly, 174 of those candidates won their races.

As Amanda Marcotte, senior political writer for, explained in a recent column, Republicans by and large haven’t reflected on why their party has lost the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential elections or why the GOP has consistently lost ground since Donald Trump won the White House in 2016. Instead, Marcotte writes, “The right is looking outward for someone besides themselves to blame, and they’ve landed on a favorite scapegoat: Single women.”

Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Marcotte about how and why Republicans are blaming single women for their electoral losses and putting forward bizarre conspiracy theories such as “Democrats are brainwashing hapless, unfortunate women who don’t have husbands to make their decisions for them.”

AMANDA MARCOTTE: Well, I want to start by saying, “Do not marginalize us. Do not assume this is just the fringes of the right.” This is Fox News. This is the mainstream right-wing talking point. And it started right after the election. Jesse Waters on Fox News in this kind of pseudo-smirking segment, said that the problem is that single women need a man to tell them how to vote, basically, and that it’s time to get them all married up so that they start voting for Republicans.

That talking point got echoed throughout the entirety of right-wing media. The Federalist, the Babylon Bee. You know, no Republican politicians came right out and said it, but at least Josh Hawley, a senator from Missouri, was retweeting people that were implying it. But across the board, the argument was functionally that single women can’t be trusted with the vote because they don’t know how to vote without a husband to sort of tell them how to vote. And that’s why single women voted for Democrats.

Another variation of it was that they were somehow bribed with human rights, like the right to choose. And that’s a kind of talking point you see a lot of time on the Republican side. Whenever people vote for Democrats because they like Democratic policies, the Democrats are accused of buying them off as if it’s somehow foul play to give the voters what they want in exchange for their vote.

That’s basically the talking point: Because single women voted for Democrats and the majority of married women voted for Republicans, that must mean that women need men in their lives to control their vote.

SCOTT HARRIS: There’s an exit poll stat for many years now that I find kind of disturbing and that is white women by and large vote for Republicans and have so for for many years now, even in the era of Donald Trump. But I think in this midterm election from the exit polls, it said by an eight percent margin, white women had voted for Republican candidates in 2022.

Does that somehow dovetail with the idea that these Republican commentators are correct in assuming that at least white women who are married are voting like their husbands who have, you know, long supported Republican candidates?

AMANDA MARCOTTE: Yeah, that’s part of the reason that this kind of talking point is a little bit misleading. Nobody is just one identity. And you can see this desire to reduce women to single or married, like define them solely by their husbands. But there’s a lot of differences between single women and married women as groups anyway, like single women tend to be younger than married women on average. Single women tend to be more racially diverse than married women on average. It’s not like you get a single woman married and she suddenly becomes a Republican, right? No more than you get a single woman married and she suddenly becomes white.

And a huge difference, too, is that college-educated women of all races vote for Democrats more than working class women. But especially, you know, white college-educated women, I do believe voted for Democrats this time. So you can kind of slice this up and you begin to realize it’s really complicated. I would say that when you see these kind of racial categories, yeah, white women, just like white men, vote their racial privilege.

There’s also a lot of age in this. The younger you go in this country, the more racially diverse it gets. But also the more likely it is that white women are to be Democrats. It becomes complicated. And I think that one of the problems is in our sort of Twitter age, we want to overgeneralize all the time instead of think about how women, just like men, have all these kind of cross-identities that they’re voting on. They have all these sort of pressures in their life that these cross pressures, like a married woman in her 50s might be more interested in making her husband happy than voting for reproductive rights she doesn’t need any more, for instance.

SCOTT HARRIS: Yeah, it’s sobering, isn’t it? I did want to ask you about young people, too, because some of these right-wing commentators and politicians are also blaming young people and their really heavily-weighted vote for Democrats this time around and in recent years as well. But I think I heard some commentators talk about the need to raise the voting age from 18 to 21 to solve this problem for Republicans.

And this is, of course, is a pattern of behavior you see on the right where voter suppression, gerrymandering, raising the voting age or taking away the vote from single women is their solution to win office. It’s just crazy.

AMANDA MARCOTTE: Yeah. And this is what I mean when I say that a lot of Republicans vote for Trump because they agree with him that democracy is bad. And you see it in this rhetoric. Over and over, they just describe entire swaths of people as incapable of self-determination, of making their own choices in the voting booth.

Listen to Scott Harris’ in-depth interview with Amanda Marcotte (16:42) and see more articles and opinion pieces in the Related Links section of this page.

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