It's been a long-held belief that people vote based on gender.
This argument brings us in all kinds of directions. You get people saying women only vote for women because of a special vagina bond, and you get people saying men don't vote for women because of sexism. This belief is where Donald Trump's accusation that Hillary Clinton is using the "woman card" comes from.
I'll admit I've long stood by the old adage that sexism exists and alters people's voting decisions. But according to new research, that's apparently not quite true.
Kathleen Dolan wrote the book, "When Does Gender Matter? Women Candidates and Gender Stereotypes in American Elections" and revealed a few interesting things. The answer to that titular question? Not often.
Dolan told the Washington Post that while people will vote along gender lines while using hypothetical situations, they won't do it when faced with real-world choices.
During the 2010 elections, Dolan conducted two surveys. She found that people mostly don't use gender as a factor while deciding who to vote for. She said,
Some people may hold gender stereotypes, but they do not employ them when making vote choice decisions.
But there is one factor that is actually a pretty good predictor of who a person will vote for. Dolan said,
[T]he traditional influences on vote choice, namely political party and incumbency, were the most important determinants of vote choice in races with and without female candidates. Respondents in this sample were overwhelmingly likely to vote for the candidate of their party regardless of the sex of the candidate. People vote for women candidates when they share her party, and don't vote for her when they don't.
Basically, gender beliefs still exist. But people don't use them when they vote.
Instead, people look to political party affiliation to decide who to vote for.
And you know what? That's not bad, America. It's really, really not a bad trend to keep.