A project of

2016 Primary Spotlight: Iowa

January 13, 2016

As we move through this primary season, the Voter Participation Center will profile unmarried women, their role in the electorate and economy in each of the contested states, starting with Iowa.

On February 1, the Iowa caucuses will provide a unique forum for civic engagement. The first official contest in the nominating process for President of the United States is an old-fashioned exercise in participatory democracy. On election night, voters go to designated precent locations to show their support for their candidates, listen to appeals for support from each campaign, and then vote. The caucuses first-in-the-nation position on the calendar gives the state enormous influence on the nation’s politics every four years. 

So who shows up in the dead of the midwestern winter to shape America’s future?  

Historically, according to an analysis from Drake University in Iowa, Republican caucus goers tend to skew heavily male; Democratic caucus goers tend to skew heavily female.  

According to the most recent census data: 

  • Women make up slightly more than half of the Iowa population (50.8%)
  • 45.4% of women in Iowa are unmarried
  • Unmarried women make up 23 percent of the eligible voters in Iowa 
  • 62 percent of them are registered to vote

A detailed demographic analysis done for the Voter Participation Center shows that unmarried women have a large and vital economic stake in the outcome of the presidential election:

  • Unmarried women are more likely than married women in Iowa to be unemployed 
  • Unmarried women are four times as likely to be living in poverty than married women
  • Six in ten workers in Iowa who make minimum wage or less are women.
  • Unmarried women earn less than other Iowans.  They make 70.8 percent of what men earn; married women in Iowa make 80.8 percent of men’s earnings.

Next up: New Hampshire