Despite the great attention paid to the importance of the women’s vote in the 2012 election, there has been a larger change in men’s than in women’s preferences compared with 2008. Barack Obama’s support is down seven percentage points among men versus three points among women. In Gallup’s latest 21-day rolling average of likely voter preferences, based on interviewing conducted Oct. 1-21, Romney leads Obama by 14 points among men, whereas Obama and John McCain were tied among men in Gallup’s final pre-election estimate in 2008. Obama currently leads Romney by eight percentage points among women, whereas he led McCain by 14 among women in 2008.
Others have reported this before, but Gallup confirms that according to their numbers, “Romney’s slight edge in the overall likely voter preferences reflects the fact that he leads among men by a wider margin than Obama leads among women.”
Men asked about what issues are most important to them responded with “jobs, the economy, the deficit, healthcare, and taxes,” all of which are areas Romney does well, particularly deficit. When asked about issues important to women specifically, women answered by including “abortion” and “equal rights” in their top five. But when asked about which issues were most important to the nation, with no mention of women’s issues in the question, those issues disappeared, and women’s issues and men’s issues became nearly one and the same. That’s why the hold Obama had on some of those women’s votes was, as we now see, rather soft:
The recent fluidity of the women’s vote, and the renewed struggle it has sparked, raises a question: Why, at this late hour of the campaign, when the vast majority of voters have made up their minds, are so many women still apparently open to changing their minds? Why was their onetime loyalty to Obama so weak? Will the president’s forceful new emphasis on women’s issues, particularly reproductive issues, bring them back — or are they gone for good?…
The “binders” line didn’t register at all among the undecided women. Nor did anyone mention the Virginia legislature’s controversial move to require women seeking abortions to get ultrasounds, including invasive ones in some cases. When it happened, Democrats were sure the bill, which passed the state house but was watered down after Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell pulled his support, was their permanent ticket to the women’s vote. But now, outside of Obama rallies, it seems largely forgotten.
Neither does Obama’s trumpeting of his work to ensure equal pay necessarily resonate. A couple of months ago, someone called Dee Ralls, a 49-year-old parole and probation worker for the state, at her house to ask about her vote. She said she wasn’t planning to vote for Obama, and the next thing she knew, there was a canvasser at her door, giving a big speech about equal pay for women.
Richard Mourdock, the GOP Senate candidate in Indiana, made remarks about rape and his pro-life position at a debate Tuesday that are destined to become a “national firestorm” with the combined efforts of the press and the Obama campaign. Romney has already distanced himself from Mourdock, and the left is trying to make him the next Todd Akin. But just because it fits a convenient political template for them doesn’t mean Mourdock’s comments should be treated exactly the same. Here they are:
“You know, this is that issue that every candidate for federal or even state office faces. And I have to certainly stand for life. I know that there are some who disagree, and I respect their point of view. But I believe that life begins at conception. The only exception I have to have on abortion is in that case — of the life of the mother. I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God. And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
Mourdock has clarified and apologized, but mostly by way of apologizing for offense taken at a meaning he didn’t intend. Democrats are certainly treating Mourdock unfairly to suggest that he implied God intends rape itself to happen, or is applauding its occurrence, as many of these headlines imply.
The country and women are about evenly split between pro-life and pro-choice positions, but the number of voters for allowing exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother is very high. Any time you’re taking a relatively unpopular position that you know, with certainty, you will be asked about, you should have ready for that issue simply the most disciplined, delicate answer you can possibly give. Any Republican who gets into this discussion without knowing that does so at his own peril, especially given that the truly dumb and offensive comments of Akin have created a perfect “national implications” template into which the media can plug even less problematic comments of any Republican on the trail.
And, again, you know what I still haven’t heard a lot about in the national media? The war on women waged by Ohio Democrat Charlie Wilson, with his fists.