Gender differences about the size and scope of government have been evident for more than a decade, but they have widened in recent years.
In a new Pew Research Center survey, nearly six-in-ten women (58%) say they prefer a bigger government providing more services to a smaller government providing fewer services (36%). Among men, the balance of opinion is nearly the reverse: 59% of men prefer a smaller government (37% prefer bigger).
The gender differences on this measure are as wide as at any point in more than a decade. The change is largely attributable to an increase in the share of women expressing a preference for bigger government, while men’s attitudes on this question are little changed.
During most of Barack Obama’s presidency, women were roughly divided on this question: As recently as September 2016, 44% of women preferred a smaller government providing fewer services, while 48% preferred a bigger government providing more services. Today, the percentage of women who prefer bigger government has risen to 58%. In September 2016, just prior to the 2016 election, 56% of men said they would rather have a smaller government. Today, 59% say they would rather have a smaller government.
Trump’s job approval rating has been more deeply divided along partisan lines – and across generations – than for other recent presidents. This also is the case when it comes to gender: There are wider differences between men and women in views of Trump’s job performance than for any president dating to George H.W. Bush.
Currently, 47% of men say they approve of how Trump is handling his job as president, with an equal share saying they disapprove (47%). By contrast, 32% of women say they approve of how Trump is handling his job as president; 63% say they disapprove.
Looking more broadly, over his first two years in office, Trump’s average approval rating was much higher among men (44%) than among women (31%). This 13-percentage-point gender gap is wider than for any of his recent predecessors, dating back to George H.W. Bush.