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​Gabby Miller, a freshman from Columbus, Ohio, majoring in electrical engineering, is single. Single women are the biggest voter demographic.

Single women's votes may carry significant poll this November

When Gabby Miller pictures her future, marriage is “not on the top of her mind.”

But being successful in her career and being involved in politics is.

According to Urban Institute, 30 percent of millennials currently in their 20s and 30s are projected to remain unmarried by age 40. In past generations, such as baby boomers and Generation X, about 87 to 90 percent of women in their 40s were married.

In the 2012 presidential election, 55 million unmarried women were able to vote, the Voter Participation Center reported. An “unmarried woman” is defined as a woman who is divorced, separated, widowed or never has been married.

Because unmarried women make up about 25 percent of the voting age population, according to the Voter Participation Center, women’s voices could have a significant impact on political decisions this November.

“I feel like with the older generation, politics was just, like, a man’s job,” Miller, a freshman studying electrical engineering, said. “And our generation is opening up and saying, ‘We want to be involved. We want to change the world.’ ”

However, Miller said she knows some women today who are married that don't vote and let their husband’s vote "count" for the both of them.

“I don’t get it,” Miller said. “I think the way of our thinking is that (women) are on the same platform as our male counterparts, but back then it was more like men were higher than women.”

Because unmarried women make up such a large percent of the voting demographic, Miller said politicians have to “target” women’s issues in their campaigns to get women's votes. However, it has a positive effect, she said, because women’s voices are becoming an important part of political decisions.

When it comes to political views, Miller is focused on issues dealing with women’s rights and college.

“I’m paying for my college and I don’t want to have tons of loans stacked up,” Miller said.

A lot of young women who opt out of marriage tend to focus on their careers rather than starting a family, Miller said, and it has to do with the fact that more women are going into fields dominated by men.

According to the Pew Research Center, the number of employed women over age 16 has risen almost 18 percent in the past 53 years, while the number of men the same age in the workforce has decreased by 15 percent, balancing gender ratios within the workforce.  

“College is also really expensive,” Miller said. “So maybe (women are) thinking, ‘I want to get myself settled before I commit to marriage’ because it’s expensive to have a wedding.”

In the millennial generation, it isn’t necessary to be married to have a committed relationship and live together, Miller said.

“It’s kind of common for people not to get married and have kids and have a house together,” Miller said.

Pew Research Center reported that the average age for women to get married is 27.

“Historically in the U.S., age of first marriages have been increasing for 100 or so years, so I think we’re seeing the natural progression of an existing trend,” Kim Little, an associate lecturer and associate director in the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies department, said in an email.

However, not all college-aged women have a desire to stay unmarried after graduation.

Halee Smith, a senior studying communication sciences and disorders, has been engaged for almost three years to her “high school sweetheart,” who she has been dating for six years. Smith and her fiancé plan to get married this October after they both graduate.

Smith said she and her fiancé decided to get married because of their religious beliefs and traditions that after a couple dates for an extended period of time, they get married.

“Also, I’ve kind of always lived by the thought of, ‘He’s going to be by my side any way, so why not just get married,’ ” Smith said.

Smith said many college-aged women want to have a set of freedoms and experiences that come with being unmarried.

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“I think that in today’s society there’s not really a push to get married,” Smith said. “Also, a lot of women like the freedom of not having to be tied down.”

Smith and her fiancé frequently talk about their political views, which tend to be similar she said. However, with the upcoming election, Smith said she is starting to have a different political outlook than her fiancé.

“We kind of accept the fact that we can be married, we can love each other, but we don’t have to love the same candidates,” Smith said.

She added that she focuses on the economy and college when choosing a candidate, because she is going to graduate school, which will be a big expense. She also looks for a candidate who focuses on women’s rights.

“When it comes to single women, it seems as though the major parties have focused less on marital/relationship status and more on socioeconomics, race, sexuality and health,” Little said in an email.

@_alexdarus

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