As the election nears, voters are splitting along party lines in their views of whether marriage and having children should be a priority. And Trump and Biden supporters also “differ sharply over the state of women’s progress in the U.S.,” per a new report from Pew Research Center.

But the nationally representative survey also finds agreement from most supporters on both sides of the aisle that women’s gains “have not come at the expense of men,” the report said.

Among the areas of contention:

  • Whether the obstacles women once faced to get ahead are still there or are gone. The results were opposite, with 73% of Biden supporters saying there are “still significant obstacles that make it harder for women to get ahead than men.” Conversely, 70% of Trump supporters say that the obstacles that disadvantaged women “are now largely gone.”
  • Whether society should prioritize marriage and having children. In the poll, 59% of Trump supporters say “society is better off if people make marriage and having children a priority,” compared to 19% of Biden supporters. In both groups, men are more likely than women to say that, 63% for Trump-supporting men versus 54% of women. Among Biden supporters, 22% of men say it, versus 16% of the the women.

The most recent American Family Survey found that the marriage rate is slipping, while the share of adults who are parents is fairly consistent, though many are having fewer children than in the past. That nationally representative annual survey is conducted by YouGov for Brigham Young University’s Wheatley Institute and the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy, in partnership with Deseret News. According to the Deseret News story, three views emerged in the survey: “A Republican, churchgoing group that’s largely enthusiastic about marriage; a Democratic group that is becoming more skeptical and is not particularly churchgoing, and ‘an odd collection of change in the middle.’”

  • Whether women should take their husband’s last name after marriage. Three-quarters overall are fine with a woman keeping her last name, but there are partisan differences, with 37% of Trump supporters saying it makes them “uncomfortable,” compared to 13% of Biden supporters.

More men are uncomfortable with women keeping their last name, 44% versus 29% among Trump supporters, and 15% of men who support Biden versus 10% of women on that side of the aisle.

Pew has reported that roughly 80% of women in opposite-sex marriages did take their husband’s surname.

  • Whether the declining fertility rate is cause for concern. Among Biden supporters, 27% say it’s good, half say neither bad nor good and 23% say it’s bad. For those supporting Trump, 17% say declining fertility and having fewer children is good for society, 35% say it’s neither bad nor good and 47% say that it’s bad.
  • Whether abortion should be illegal. Asked if abortion should be legal in all (46%) or most (42%) cases, 88% of Biden supporters say yes, compared to roughly 38% of Trump supporters. Of those, 9% say abortion should be legal in all cases, while 28% say abortion should be legal in most cases.

There are differences based on age and gender among Trump supporters, but not significant differences among Biden supporters. For instance, among Trump supporters, 41% of women say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared to 34% of men. And younger voters are more likely to say legal in all or most cases (51% of young Trump supporters, ages 18-34), compared to 33% of those 50-64. The difference among Biden voters by age or gender is slight.

  • Whether broad access to birth control is good for society. For Biden supporters, 93% says it’s good, compared to 66% of Trump supporters.
  • Whether the availability of in vitro fertilization is good. Of Biden supporters, 83% say access is a good thing, compared to 64% of Trump supporters.
Do Americans still love marriage?

Survey nuts and bolts

The survey was conducted April 8-14 using the Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel. The poll included 8,709 adults, including 7,166 registered voters.

“It includes oversamples of non-Hispanic Asian adults, non-Hispanic Black adults, Hispanic adults, and adults ages 18 to 29 in order to provide more precise estimates of the opinions and experiences of these smaller demographic subgroups. It also included an oversample of validated 2016 and 2020 ‘vote switchers,’ who either voted for Donald Trump in 2020 but not in 2016, or who voted for Joe Biden in 2020 but not for Hillary Clinton in 2016. These oversampled groups are weighted back to reflect their correct proportions in the population,” per the report.

In addition to asking about those issues, the survey also looked at gender identity, religious values, crime and policing opinions, and gun attitudes, among other topics.

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