Obama Leads McCain in Battleground States Among Single Women

Unmarried women -- often dubbed the "Sex and the City" vote -- overwhelmingly support Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., over Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in key battleground states, according to a recent poll.

Single, divorced, separated, and widowed women voters in 14 battleground states favor the presumptive Democratic nominee over his Republican rival by 61 to 29 percent, according to a Democratic poll commissioned for Women's Voices Women Vote Action Fund , an advocacy group for unmarried women voters.

Those findings jibe with the latest ABC News poll released in July, which found Obama leading McCain nationally among unmarried women voters 59 to 32 percent.

"Unmarried women are to progressives what evangelicals are to the conservative movement," Page Gardner, founder and president of Women's Voices Women Votes, told ABCNews.com.

But the Democratic poll also found that Obama continues to struggle with support from unmarried women who are also white seniors, white women who haven't gone to college, white women with children, and women making less than $30,000 a year.

While 56 percent of white senior unmarried women are Democrats or lean Democrat, only 48 percent are backing Obama, an eight point margin. Among unmarried white women with no college education, 54 percent are or lean Democratic, but 44 percent back Obama, a 10 point margin.

"This issue for Obama is true with the electorate overall," said Anna Greenberg, a Democratic pollster working with Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, the firm that conducted the poll of unmarried women in battleground states.

"But regardless, there's this sort of gap that he's got to figure out if he wants to grow the margin among unmarried women," she said.

The findings of the Democratic poll were based on a survey of over 1,000 registered, unmarried voters in the battleground states of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Single Women Fastest Growing Demographic

The upward trend in unmarried women could help Obama in November because single women are one of the most reliable Democratic voting groups, Gardner said. Exit poll results going back to 1992 show an overwhelming majority of unmarried women reliably voting for the Democratic candidate.

However, unmarried women tend to be cynical about politics. And while the unmarried women group is growing faster and faster, they do not reliably turn out to vote. Single women are less likely to register, and less likely to vote.

"Their lives are incredibly stretched," Gardner said, "so unmarried women tend to not be active seekers of political information."

In 2004, 20 million unmarried women didn't participate in the election. Women's Voices Women Vote has launched a campaign to try to increase the number of unmarried registered voters, creating public service announcements featuring Hollywood actresses, including Julia Louis-Dreyfus of "Seinfeld" fame.

In August, Gardner will mail 6.5 million voter registration applications to unmarried women in 35 states, along with information about the candidates' positions.

"There's a real information gap for these women," Greenberg said. "So, the best way to get them information is a non-rhetorical, side-by-side sort of comparison of where the candidates stand on the issues."

Unmarried women are disproportionately black; are more likely to have lower levels of education; and are both younger and older than married women, because unmarried can mean never married, divorced, separated or widowed, pollsters say.

November will be the first presidential election in the nation's history where the number of unmarried women equals the number of married women, each representing 26 percent of the eligible voting population.

They are also one of the fastest growing large demographics in the country, according to Census data. The percentage of married households is dropping steadily -- 52.5 percent in 2000 to 49.7 percent of households in 2006.

Gas Prices Key for Single Women

The Democratic poll found that, like many voters, unmarried women believe gas prices are their top concern. Health care and food prices also rank highly as issues of concern for unmarried women.

"That group, certainly like other groups, are going to be taking a hard look at the economy and, particularly, gas prices," said Republican pollster Myra Miller.

Miller says GOP polling has found that unmarried women, who tend to be less economically well-off than married women, may be more inclined to support offshore oil drilling to offset the high price of gas.

That could bode well for McCain, who supports offshore oil drilling.

"As gas prices have risen considerably, people are giving consideration to offshore oil drilling, whereas a couple years ago, they might not have," Miller said.

"Cost of living issues are critical for unmarried women," she said. "Obama, he certainly is an articulate speaker and he sounds good, but they are really going to be taking a look at 'what are you going to do,' particularly about gas prices."

However, Greenberg says that the more unmarried women understand about Obama's background, the better they like him.

"One of the things that unmarried women like about him is that he sort of comes from a humble background, he's worked his way up, his mom was a single mother," Greenberg said. "There's some real points of connection that they have with him."

Married Women Could Be Swing Voters

One of the biggest swing groups in November could be married women, who voted for Clinton in the 1990s and George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004.

Among married women, Obama holds a 52-43 percent lead over McCain, according to the July ABC News poll.

However, married women are one of the most moveable swing voter groups, which could bode well for McCain. Thirty-three percent of married women said they could change their minds before November, according to an ABC News poll.

Both candidates have targeted women voters, who could represent over 54 percent of the electorate in November. Women overwhelmingly went for Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., during the primaries, though Obama appears to be picking up her support.

In the latest ABC News poll, Obama leads McCain among likely women voters, 54 percent to 39 percent. Obama and McCain are tied 45 percent to 45 percent among likely men voters, pointing to a gender gap in this election.

ABC News' Karen Travers and Peyton Craighill contributed to this report.