On Aug. 26, 1920, the U.S. Congress ratified the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, giving women the right to vote. Today, Susan B. Anthony and other suffrage leaders who fought for social equality 100 years ago would be proud to witness the fruits of their labor as women maintain a prominent position in determining election outcomes across our 50 states.
That hard-fought influence of the female voter is sure to be felt with the upcoming statewide gubernatorial, senate and house races taking place in almost every state this year.
But are all female voters alike, and will a one-size-fits-all media strategy work as candidates vie to get their messages heard by this important voter segment? Nielsen Scarborough examined three key female voter segments (Latinas, college-educated and Millennials) to learn more about their voting behaviors and determine which media vehicles will most effectively reach each.
Scarborough asked registered female voters how often they usually vote in statewide elections: about half (53%) responded with “always,” up 9.6% from 2014. Almost three in five (58%) of college-educated females said they “always” vote in statewide elections, compared with 41% of Latina and 35% of female Millennial voters. While each voter segment has shown growth in consistent voting behavior over the past four years, there is still room for growth in female voting engagement.
But consistent voting behavior isn’t the only thing growing with female voters; so is their distaste for being pigeonholed into a specific party definition.
While the majority of the female voter segments the study examined self-identified as Democrat, a substantial portion of each consider themselves to be Independent or not in alignment with any political party. With party affiliation being a major driver of voting behavior, this non-identification makes an effective media plan ever more important to ensure that eyes and ears are reached.
Television remains an effective method for reaching the female voter, but each segment varies in terms of time spent with the medium and type of programming preferred. College-educated and Latina female voters spend the most time with television each day: 4 hours and 46 minutes and 4 hours and 5 minutes, respectively. Comparatively, Millennials spend about 3 hours 22 minutes with TV.
While the data demonstrates that all female voter segments have a fondness for food/cooking and reality programming (specifically shows that are dating and talent focused), preferences differ widely from there. College-educated voters are more likely than the average voter to watch daytime programming, while Latinas prefer court shows, late local news and novellas. In addition, advertising placed around comedies will reach a substantial portion (63%) of the female Millennial voter segment.
Radio reaches the ears of nearly all female voters, as about 90% of each segment listens during the 6 a.m. to midnight daypart, Monday-Saturday. Additionally, each segment spends about 1 hour and 30 minutes each day listening to the radio. Format preferences aren’t as consistent. College-educated voters prefer News/Talk/Information, Country and Adult Contemporary; Millennials prefer Country and Hot AC; and Latinas are drawn to Pop Contemporary and Mexican Regional formats.
The study also found that print media will be most effective in reaching the female College Educated Voter, considering almost half (46%) read a print edition of the Sunday newspaper, verses about a third (31%) of female Millennial and (35%) Latina female voters. All segments read daily papers at similar levels, with sectional preferences leaning toward the local news and international news sections.
No political media plan would be complete without digital, especially if you’re looking to reach the Millennial female voter. In an average week, she spends 11 hours and 23 minutes on the Internet. The average registered voter spends 9 hours and 8 minutes online each week, which is more comparable to usage by the female college educated (9 hours 42 minutes) and Latina female voters (8 hours and 25 minutes).
Social media is most heavily used by the Millennial and Latina female voter segments. Four in five Latinas and almost all Millennials (93%) have engaged in social networking during the past month. Female Millennial voters use Instagram and Snapchat equally, with almost half saying they have used the networks in the past month. They are 177% more likely than the average registered voter to use Snapchat and 118% more likely to use Instagram.
The current political climate is charged with issues inciting strong emotions and women are stepping up to make sure their voices are heard. Each female voters’ media preferences are as unique as the many issues to be decided in the coming months. Bottom line: no one-size media plan will fit all.