Column One:
Eye on Unmarried America

July 2,  2007  



New political report focuses on unmarried voters

By Thomas F. Coleman

A new report released last week highlights the growing influence that unmarried voters may have on American politics in the coming years. 

"Unmarried America 2007" was published by Women's Voices Women Vote in cooperation with Lake Research Partners. 

The Hill, a political newspaper in Washington D.C., and National Public Radio, immediately picked up on the news as did several overseas news sources.

According to the report, "unmarried citizens are a surging force in American politics." Currently, there are almost 90 million unmarried adult citizens. More than 52 million of the nation's 90 million unmarried adults are registered voters, while "almost 37 million are eligible but not registered to vote."

The authors describe unmarried women -- and to a lesser extent, unmarried men -- as the nation’s “biggest untapped political resource.”

In other key findings, the report noted that:

-- The majority of American households (50.3%) are now headed by unmarried adults.

-- Unmarried voters are change oriented and they want progressive change.

-- Unmarried America is economically marginalized compared to married America, and this motivates much of their impulse for change.

-- Unmarried Americans are cynical about the government, believing that their voice goes unheard and that the government is run by an elite few. This cynicism is a barrier to their participation.

-- Government corruption is a common theme underlying the attitudes of unmarried Americans toward government.

In a conference call with reporters, Democratic pollster Celinda Lake said that almost 50 million women 18 and over are single, separated, divorced or widowed. Of the nation’s big demographic groups, including Hispanics and African-Americans, single women are growing the fastest.

The problem, she said, is that many single women don't go to the polls.  For example, in 2004, only about 55 percent of single women voted, while 71 percent of married women voted.

Of the single women who do vote, Lake said they overwhelmingly favor change.  Issues of major concern to single women are wages, health care, and ending the war in Iraq.

In an interview with Anthony Brooks on National Public Radio, Page Gardner suggested that single women are the new electoral bloc for politicians to court, noting that the biggest political divide in America is between married and unmarried people.  Gardner is the President of Women's Voices Women Vote.

"There are almost 37 million unmarried adults who could be targeted for voter registration drives – including more than 18 million unmarried women," the report states.  "These unmarried women make up 25 percent of the eligible American electorate – a larger share than eligible African Americans and the growing Latino citizenry combined."

Between the 2002 and 2006 midterm elections, unmarried women showed the greatest increase in number of voters.  "They are the nation's fastest growing large demographic," the report states.

According to the report, Iraq is the dominant issue for unmarried Americans, but other issues like health care and the economy offer real opportunities to mobilize unmarried adults to register and to vote.

Since unmarried voters lean heavily toward the Democratic Party in their voting habits, perhaps this report will not be ignored by Democratic presidential hopefuls as they gear up for the 2008 elections.

To read other editions of Column One, click here.

© Unmarried America 2007

Thomas F. Coleman, Executive Director of Unmarried America, is an attorney with 33 years of experience in singles' rights, family diversity, domestic partner benefits, and marital status discrimination.  Each week he adds a new commentary to Column One: Eye on Unmarried America. E-mail: Unmarried America is a nonprofit information service for unmarried employees, consumers, taxpayers, and voters.