National closes the gender gap

An interesting academic paper by Hilde Coffe:

This paper investigates gender differences in voting for the two major parties (Labour and National) and the two main small parties (Green and New Zealand First) at the 2011 New Zealand general election. In contrast to the gender gap found in many post-industrial societies with women being more likely to lean towards the left than men, this study reveals limited differences in party preferences among men and women in New Zealand.

The only substantial gender difference is found in relation to voting for New Zealand First, with women being substantially less supportive of the populist party than men. This gap is robust and remains substantial even when gender differences in socioeconomic characteristics and issue positions related to the role of government, the welfare state and the presence of immigrants are taken into account.

Interestingly, while no gender gap occurs at first sight in support for the mainstream right-wing party National, a gap does arise once gender differences in policy issue positions are controlled for, with women being more likely to support National than men.

As the author states, it is usual for women to vote more left than men. In NZ at the last election, this did not occur. In fact National arguably gets more support from women than men. Why? The obvious answer was the appeal of John Key, but the author included that as a variable – and there was still a difference.

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