Women Voters Going Blue
I usually trust that the national political strategists know what they're doing. They might alienate one group of voters but they know they'll win another. Of course it's risky, if you play to the South you might lose votes in the North and so on -- to win the election you need a majority of the votes, it all comes down to that. And both sides want to win.
Sometimes it is difficult to figure out what the angle is, why a politician would pick a certain fight, but in time the pieces come together and you see what they had in mind. Or sometimes it just fails, they pick a fight and get their butts kicked. In any case, whenever a candidate for office says something you've got to perceive it in light of their effort to win the election.
And so I have looked with a curious eye at this phenomenon that has come to be called "the Republican war on women," even though I don't like that term. They can't be so stupid that they would intentionally offend and drive away fully half of the voting public, but it can't be an accident; they have very specifically targeted issues involving women with the intent in every case of taking rights away and punishing women for attempting to be equal to men.
This week's USA Today/Gallup poll of swing states demonstrates how effective this approach has been:
President Obama has opened the first significant lead of the 2012 campaign in the nation's dozen top battleground states, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, boosted by a huge shift of women to his side.In the fifth Swing States survey taken since last fall, Obama leads Republican front-runner Mitt Romney 51%-42% among registered voters just a month after the president had trailed him by two percentage points.The biggest change came among women under 50. In mid-February, just under half of those voters supported Obama. Now more than six in 10 do while Romney's support among them has dropped by 14 points, to 30%. The president leads him 2-1 in this group.Romney's main advantage is among men 50 and older, swamping Obama 56%-38%.Republicans' traditional strength among men "won't be good enough if we're losing women by nine points or 10 points," says Sara Taylor Fagen, a Republican strategist and former political adviser to President George W. Bush. "The focus on contraception has not been a good one for us … and Republicans have unfairly taken on water on this issue." Swing States Poll: A shift by women puts Obama in lead
Interesting use of the word "unfairly" there. You try to make it harder for women to get their birth control pills, you propose laws requiring that women should be raped with medical devices when they seek an abortion, you run down Planned Parenthood, you hold a panel discussion on birth control and only invite men, and after a while you are going to "take on water," and it will be perfectly fair.
The Republicans have told women they don't like them, and women are saying, fine, we don't like you either.
This is only April, of course, we look forward to seven months of campaigning. And it is possible that the GOP has a comprehensive strategy that reaches that far into the future, that they are alienating women now to set up a smart move later where they will win them all back again in an irresistible wave of last-minute enthusiasm. I wouldn't rule it out.
On the other hand, it may turn out that their disregard for women is so pervasive that they just can't help themselves, they are doing what they think is right and they will continue to do it. It will be a fascinating year.