The Partisan Gender Gap: Genuine Attachment or Social Motivation?

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Principal investigator:

Yanna Krupnikov

Stony Brook University



Sample size: 2005

Field period: 12/10/2018-05/10/2019


There is a partisan gender gap in American politics: women are more likely than men to identify as Democrats. Relying on an experiment that randomly assigns measures of partisanship, Burden (Public Opinion Quarterly 2008) finds that part of this gap can be explained by question-wording effects: when partisanship measures prime affect – rather than cognition – women are significantly more likely to identify as Republicans, significantly decreasing the partisan gender gap. Given recent changes in the salience of both, gender and partisanship in American politics, we revisit the possibility that measurement can affect the size of the partisan gender gap through a replication of Burden (2008).


RQ1: Does question-wording lead to shifts in the partisan gender gap?

RQ2: Do these effects extend part partisanship to strength of partisan identity?

RQ3: Burden (2008) sees strong effects for women, but none for men. Does the salience of gender in recent years produce effects for men as well?

Experimental Manipulations

Shift in question-wording of the partisanship and partisan identity measures from "think" to "feel" (e.g. Burden (2008)


Partisanship, Partisan Identity (measure based on Huddy et al 2015)

Summary of Results

We do not find consistent evidence that changes in the wording of the partisanship question can significantly alter the size of the partisan gender gap, and we do not find evidence of shifts in identity strength. Contrary to Burden (2008), our data show that measures of partisanship that prime affect do not lead women to be more likely to identify as Republicans. Rather, exploratory analyses suggest that these measures lead women of both parties to be more likely to identify as independent – a pattern that leaves the partisan gender gap in place. We also find no treatment effects for men.