There’s no evidence whatsoever that Angus King has a “woman problem.” Why does AP say he does?

See important update below

The Associated Press is out with an article about candidate Angus King in which it claims he has a “woman problem.”

Here’s how the article starts:

Independent Senate candidate Angus King of Maine has a woman problem. He’s not one.The popular former governor is the undisputed front-runner in the campaign to replace retiring Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe, the state’s most powerful female voice in a generation. But beneath the 68-year-old businessman’s popularity is a stark political reality: For many Maine women, King is not their first choice.

As this is an empirical claim, you’d think the reporter had some poll that, you know, showed that King has a “woman problem,” that he is “not their first choice.”

But, no. The article has no data whatsoever. There are no polls of Maine voters with data on women’s candidate preferences.

And while an interview or two would be purely anecdotal, the reporter does manage to include one quote from a woman voter. What does she say?

“I wanted Chellie to run,” 48-year-old registered Democrat Tory Dietel Hopps, a philanthropic adviser from Cumberland, Maine, said in the midst of the crowded office. “But if we can’t have Chellie in the Senate, we can have Angus. That works for me.”

So the one voter whose views are included — in an article that posits that King has a “woman problem” — is voting for Angus King.

By the way, that quote is preceded by this language:

Evidence of King’s challenge is everywhere, even among the applause, balloons and laughter at the headquarters-opening party in Brunswick recently.

Truly, this is very puzzling political analysis.

Perhaps King is doing worse among women voters than among men. Perhaps he is not women’s first choice. But this article does not show either.

Update:  Actual public opinion data about King and women’s support has been reported by Mike Tipping. So does Angus King have “a woman problem”? No, he doesn’t. Tipping, who oversees what was the most accurate Maine poll of 2011, reports:

In the U.S. Senate general election, independent candidate Angus King seems to have a big lead however you look at the three-way race, but he still manages to garner 10 points more support from women voters than men.

As King receives majority support from all Maine voters, King is thus clearly the majority of women’s first choice.


By the way, the gender gap in citizens’ voting preferences has nothing to do with whether a candidate is a woman. There are very few viable independent candidates, so the research does not address a situation like Maine’s 2012 U.S. Senate race. But it’s very well-established that women Republican candidates get lower shares of women’s votes compared to men’s votes, even if they are running against male Democratic candidates.

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.