Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign is preoccupied with women’s votes. Republican’s promotional campaigns communicated in five consecutive press releases were based on the theme that President Barack Obama’s economic record has failed to provide relief to American women. Republicans are responding not just to the polls but to the constant mythology of the gender gap.
Romney argued that Obama’s energy policy is making women pay higher gas prices; that the incumbent’s economic policy is unreasonably costing women their jobs; and the White House pays female aides less than male ones. The Republican National Committee has been more than eager to repeat former adviser Anita Dunn’s claim (which she subsequently said was taken out of context) that even though Obama himself was spotless, his White House was quoted as “a genuinely unfriendly workplace to women.”
A recent USA Today/Gallup poll which established the fact that Romney is losing support among women in ages ranging from 20 to 45 has especially worried them. Everyone understands why Republicans are mounting this attack; they are responding to weeks of Democratic charges that they are waging a “war on women.”
The figure of voters who are profoundly worried about the conduct of Democratic women in the White House and will vote for a Republican as an aftermath has to be, as a rough calculation, a big zero. Getting support back will come via big issues such as gas prices, hostile work environments, women losing jobs, etc. I believe that not many people think that way, and those who do tilt towards Democrats.
Romney is lagging in the polls because voters are disturbed about a “war on women” -- rather than because of a negative campaign or the recovering economy. Republicans are responding not just to the polls but to the constant mythology of the gender gap.
The fact suggests that women are more interested than men in voting for Democrats, but this gap does not always help either party. It is not the case that the greater the gender gap, the worse Republicans do. Republicans did seven points better among men than women in 2004, when they won. They did five points better in 2008, when they lost.
Obama hardly won men in 2008. If this race is at all competitive, he will lose them this time. Romney will win among large subgroups of women: those who are married, those who are white, and those who go to church regularly. Gender is not the principal determinant of women’s votes any more than it is of men’s.
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