Magic Number of the Day: 13

Photograph by Scott Eells/Bloomberg

A shopper at the Saks Inc. store in New York on Feb. 17, 2012.

That’s the percentage-point “gender gap” between men and women in the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index for the week ended March 18. Women aren’t as confident as men about the economic recovery, the survey showed.

In political terms, confidence is everything. And, for a White House that enjoyed a significant advantage among women in the 2008 election, the state of mind among men and women  approaching November is a leading indicator.

The index for women was minus 41.3 percent, compared to minus 28.2 percent for men. The index is based on responses to three questions about how people view the state of the economy, their personal finances and the overall buying climate. The percentage of negative responses is subtracted from the share of positive views and divided by three, yielding a number between minus 100 and plus 100.

The index for women has been lower than the index for men for 46 consecutive weeks. The gap has been at least 10 percentage points in 14 consecutive weeks.

Men are giving more positive responses than women about the economy because “recent jobs gains have occurred disproportionately among men,” Langer Research Associates, which produces the index, said in a written analysis.

Women accounted for 53 percent of the electorate in the 2008 presidential election, backing President Barack Obama by 56 percent to 43 percent over Arizona Senator John McCain, according to an exit poll.

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