Palin and American Women:

Gloria Steinem writes in the L.A. Times,

[Palin] opposes just about every issue that women support by a majority or plurality. She believes that creationism should be taught in public schools but disbelieves global warming; she opposes gun control but supports government control of women's wombs; she opposes stem cell research but approves "abstinence-only" programs, which increase unwanted births, sexually transmitted diseases and abortions; she tried to use taxpayers' millions for a state program to shoot wolves from the air but didn't spend enough money to fix a state school system with the lowest high-school graduation rate in the nation; she runs with a candidate who opposes the Fair Pay Act but supports $500 million in subsidies for a natural gas pipeline across Alaska; she supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, though even McCain has opted for the lesser evil of offshore drilling. She is Phyllis Schlafly, only younger.

I haven't seen the surveys that Ms. Steinem relies on; but here's a brief summary of what I quickly did find:

  1. On one aspect of gun control questions -- whether the Second Amendment protects an individual right of pretty much each person to own a gun -- Palin's view is shared by 58% of women (Dec. 2007, CNN). (On other aspects, Palin might indeed disagree with many women, but this struck me as a pretty important one.)

  2. If Palin does believe "that creationism should be taught in public schools," her view is probably shared by most women. Of the public generally, polls report that a significant majority favors teaching creationism alongside evolution in public schools: 65% to 29% in a 2004 CBS/N.Y. Times poll, and 58% in a 2006 Pew poll. A 2005 Harris poll actually reported that only 12% of the public supported teaching only evolution, and 82% supported teaching creationism or intelligent design either alone (27%) or alongside evolution (55%). I know of no reason for thinking that women are less likely to take this view than men: For instance, when the Pew survey asked, "What Should Be the More Important Influence on U.S. Laws? [The Bible vs. People's will]", 29% of men said the Bible (67% said people's will) and 37% of women said the Bible (58% for people's will); this suggests that if there is a gender gap on such questions, it probably wouldn't lead to many fewer women supporting creationism teaching than men.

    (As to Palin's views on the subject, she has said "Teach both [creationism and evolution]. You know, don't be afraid of information. Healthy debate is so important, and it's so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both." but later said she meant that "I don't think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. It doesn't have to be part of the curriculum.")

  3. On global warming, Palin's statement that she "would [not] attribute it to being man-made" probably does differ from the views of women (since it's out of step with the views of the public at large, and I have no reason to think there's a large gender gap on this question).

  4. Likewise, her opposition to stem cell research does differ from the views of the public and almost certainly of women.

  5. On abortion, I suspect that both Palin and Obama disagree with most American women. There's very little gender gap on the subject, but while most women (58% in this 2003 ABC News poll, and I don't think the numbers have changed significantly since) say abortion should be legal "in all or most cases," the fraction falls to 40% if the abortion is "to end unwanted pregnancy" as opposed to when the reason is "to save woman's life," "to save woman's health," "in cases of rape/incest," or "when baby is physically impaired."

  6. I also don't know of any surveys on women's views about shooting wolves from the air (which was apparently "intended to boost moose and caribou numbers"), or subsidies for the natural gas pipeline. (The wolf program also apparently did not involve "taxpayers' millions" but "$400,000 approved to educate Alaskans about wolf killing," plus $150 to be paid per wolf killed, with an objective "of between 382 and 664 wolves" for an expected total of $100,000 or less; but I might have missed some other materials on this.) If there are no such surveys, then I see no basis for Ms. Steinem's "women support by a majority or plurality" claim, which I take it refers to all the items that follow in that paragraph, and not just some.