B-b-b-but Madeleine Albright says she can’t understand why any woman would vote for Mitt Romney.
Seriously, guys, I want to believe. I do. But … I don’t.
Just 47 percent of registered voters in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll see Obama favorably overall, down 7 percentage points from his recent peak in April, while 49 percent rate him unfavorably. He’s numerically underwater in this group for the first time since February.
The decline has occurred entirely among women registered voters – from 57-39 percent favorable-unfavorable in April to a numerically negative 46-50 percent now. That’s Obama’s lowest score among women voters – a focus of recent political positioning – in ABC/Post polls since he took office. Unusually, his rating among men, 50-47 percent favorable-unfavorable, is numerically better than it is among women, albeit not by a significant margin.
The result is not the only sign of the work ahead for Obama among women. In a separate ABC/Post poll last week, he led Romney among women registered voters in vote preference by just 6 points, 49-43 percent. In 2008, Obama won women by 13 points, 56-43 percent.
WaPo/ABC conducted their poll of registered voters from August 29 — halfway through the convention, before Romney spoke — through September 2. This afternoon’s CNN poll was conducted from August 31, the day after the convention ended, through September 3. Here’s what CNN got from women voters on Obama’s favorability — among likely voters:
Likely voters are more pro-Romney than registered voters are, so that +12 spread among women for O must be even bigger among CNN’s sample of registereds. I have no idea how to square that with WaPo/ABC’s finding that O’s popularity has begun to tank. My inclination is that WaPo’s an outlier since virtually every other poll shows women preferring The One to Mitt, but maybe there’s a convention effect happening here. Note the trendlines in WaPo/ABC’s data:
Mitt gained seven points and Obama lost five among women after the convention. Even in the CNN poll, where O’s numbers among women are rosy, Romney gained five points on the question of which candidate is more in touch with the problems facing women today. (He still trails Obama on that point by a wide, wide margin, though.) So maybe the GOP’s efforts to “humanize” Romney, capped by Ann’s speech on Tuesday night, did some good after all and improved his image with women. That probably moved some women’s votes towards Mitt too, although WaPo/ABC doesn’t say. Assuming the WaPo numbers tonight are correct, though, then how to explain Obama’s decline among women before the GOP convention? He was at 57 percent favorable with them back in April, but as of August 26th, he was down to just a 51/45 split. Democrats have been pounding the “war on women” crap relentlessly too. Maybe his campaign’s sharp negativity over the summer alienated some women voters? Or maybe, as I suggested earlier, the WaPo/ABC poll is a big ol’ outlier? Help me out here, guys. I really do want to believe.