With Rick Santorum opposed to contraception and Mitt Romney declaring he would cut family planning from the federal budget, Charlie Cook wonders if the White House deliberately picked this fight now, knowing where it would go. He points out that for all the talk about Republican primary turnout being down, Democrats aren’t that keen on their guy either. The White House says this was not a political decision, that once the nonpartisan, nongovernmental Institute of Medicine recommended that contraceptives be included as part of women’s preventive health care, the die was cast.
“This will in a lot of ways be a faultline in this election,” says Bill Burton, who is with the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action. The election won’t turn on these kinds of cultural issues, but they can generate emotion and passion. Obama’s job approval is just above 50 percent among younger voters, a group that gave him 66 percent of their vote in 2008. “They’ve got to get young people jazzed up, and there are very few issues that get young women more jazzed up than contraception,” says Cook. Indeed, the Obama campaign website highlights the issue of contraception, along with the fact that it will be free once the Affordable Care Act is implemented.