As we enter into the final weeks of the 2014 campaign season, Democrats are doubling their efforts to try and mobilize single women to vote this year. As Rothman wrote this past summer, single women voters are the biggest obstacles Republicans face when it comes to retaking the Senate (via National Journal) [emphasis mine]:
The “gender gap”—the difference between Republicans’ usual margin of victory among men and Democrats’ usual margin of victory among women—is nothing new. It has been evident for years in almost every election up and down the ballot. But a National Journal analysis of public polls, and interviews with strategists from both parties, suggests that the gap has ballooned to historic proportions across 2014’s battleground states. Democrats are running campaigns designed to press an advantage among women that is helping the party compete in a number of races despite an unfriendly political climate and steep GOP advantages among men. Meanwhile, Republicans are searching for issues to combat the trend with female voters.
“I think the gender gaps are growing compared to past election cycles,” said Matt Canter, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s deputy executive director. “We’ll see how that turns out, but that’s certainly what the public and internal polling shows, in every race across the board.”
It’s a trend several Republicans privately admitted they are watching nervously, though some point out that one end of the growing gap isn’t bad news for the GOP. “I haven’t seen gender gaps like this in any race until this year, and we’re seeing them all over the place,” said Nicole McCleskey, a New Mexico-based Republican pollster for Public Opinion Strategies. “Typically people say we’re in bad shape with women, but it’s also that Democrats are not doing well with men. That’s why the gap is exploding like it is.”
In other words, war on women reloaded. One thing that is positive about the “war on women” narrative is that a majority of women see it as more of a “political gimmick” than something that’s actually grounded in reality. Additionally, even Democratic pollsters are seeing negative feedback from such campaign strategies, with women calling them politically cheap and divisive.
Nevertheless, in some states, it’s still being used. Sen. Kay Hagan, who is fighting for her political life, threw some major punches towards her Republican opponent, Thom Tillis, over his record on women’s health in their first debate. Sen. Mark Udall in Colorado has employed war on women tactics, but it seems to not be gaining the traction some on the left had hoped it would get, especially as Election Day approaches.
In some races women are split evenly between the two candidates. In Kentucky, women split 47/46 between Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes and Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell. In fact, McConnell’s lead is due to his 10+ point lead with men, which is a voting bloc where Democrats are hemorrhaging support and don’t have much of a strategy to win them back, much to the dismay of some left-leaning analysts. In these tight races, the male vote seems to be what matters on the margins.
Right now, Republicans are expected to win Montana, West Virginia, and South Dakota. They need three more to win the majority.