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Women voters decide elections: Looking back at 100 years of women's voting rights

Women voters decide elections: Looking back at 100 years of women's voting rights

FIU takes a look back at the last 100 years of women's voting rights.

August 18, 2020 at 1:30pm

A hundred years ago, women didn't even have the right to vote in presidential elections. Now, they determine the winners and losers in these contests.

In 2020, "women voters decide elections," says political science professor Kathryn DePalo-Gould.

This year marks the centennial of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which for the first time gave women the right to vote in the 1920 presidential election (the winner was Warren G. Harding). But once women got the vote, they often just voted as their husbands did.

It took roughly 60 years for a gender gap to appear in voting choices, says DePalo-Gould. The gap began appearing during The civil rights era of the 1950s and '60s and then the feminist revolution of the 1970s. This is when many more women started getting out of the home and began pursuing their education and professional careers. "And that becomes particularly important when you look at voting," she says.

This fall, as one of the most polarized U.S. citizenry since the Civil War goes to the polls, women voters will play a decisive role in who wins the 2020 presidential race, says DePalo-Gould. The campaigns know this, she says, so they create their strategies and tailor their political messages accordingly.

"When we look back at the 2020 elections, we are going to see that women ... are crucial to deciding the winner of the presidential election," says DePalo-Gould. "And I think suburban women, in particular, are going to be the ones to look at because those are going to be the swing voters. And whether they vote for the Republican candidate or they vote for the Democratic candidate I think is going to decide this election."