"We think more carefully about vacations and trips," says Jeri Neidhard, 49, a high school English teacher from Centerville, Ohio, who votes as an independent. Instead of traveling this summer, Neidhard says she saved money for some needed home renovations.

Male voters in the poll are more likely than women to be concerned about the budget deficit, and show greater interest in the Tea Party movement, which has made government spending the thrust of its campaign to oust incumbent members of Congress. Among women, 44% say the deficit is a manageable burden, compared with 34% of men.

The shortfall between spending and revenue was $1.29 trillion in the year that ended Sept. 30, down from $1.42 trillion the previous year, according to the Treasury. At 8.9% of the nation's gross domestic product, the 2010 deficit was the second biggest since 1945.

Overall 38% of men, compared with 25% of women, consider themselves supporters of the Tea Party movement. Four in 10 men, compared with one-quarter of women, say they believe the Tea Party will change things for the better if its candidates are elected to Congress. More than half of men say Obama's health-care law should be repealed, while just four in 10 women favor that option.

Presidential Match-Up

Gender differences show in attitudes toward former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, a leading Tea Party figure and a possible Republican presidential contender, with 30% of women saying they would vote for her if she were Obama's adversary in a presidential election held today, compared with 40% of men. Palin leads Obama among men 45 and older.

The poll finds that more than half of women likely voters approve of the job Obama is doing, including on health care, and say the economy will either get worse or stay the same if Republicans win control of the Congress. Men, by a margin of 58% to 39%, disapprove of Obama's job performance on the economy.

Still, these female voters are less motivated this year to turn up at the polls to support Democratic candidates than their male counterparts are to support Republicans. Overall, 66% of women voters say they will definitely vote or already have voted, compared with 74% for men. Almost four in ten women voters say the election is exceptionally important, compared with almost half of men.

'Harms Democratic Candidates'

"Women are not linking any participation in the midterms to their support for President Obama," says J. Ann Selzer, president of Des Moines, Iowa-based Selzer & Co., which conducted the poll. "That harms Democratic candidates and may make the second half of Obama's first term more complicated."