In the end it may not matter whether, as Democrats would have us all believe, Republicans truly are waging a "War on Women" through recent attacks on contraception, sexual liberation and other reproductive health issues. Because one important voting bloc seems to have reached a telling consensus on this issue:?the ladies.
According to a new USA Today/Gallup poll of 12 battleground states, Obama currently leads Romney by 18 points among women voters. The president actually trails his likely election foe by 1 point among men, but women more than make up for that slight gap: All told, Obama leads Romney by nine points, 51 to 42 percent, in key swing states.
The trend is hardly new, of course. Bill Clinton won the presidency 16 points up among women in 1996, despite trailing Bob Dole by
1 point among men. In 2000, the party sex gap hit 22 points; in 2004, 14; and in 2008, 12.
So there is some evidence to suggest that the voter disparity is just a fact of electoral life. Then again, Obama was losing to Romney in those same states in an early February poll conducted by the same organization. Has anything happened since that month that could perhaps explain the massive GOP exodus?
Let's see. The opening salvo of the so-called war was fired on Feb. 2: the now-infamous Komen flap, in which it was revealed that conservative execs of the women's health charity were conspiring to distance the organization from health services (and yes, abortion) provider Planned Parenthood. Shortly thereafter came loud Republican outrage to the Obama administration's individual mandate, specifically the requirement for religiously-affiliated institutions to provide birth control services via employer health plans; party leaders did a poor job of framing this as an issue of religious liberty rather than patriarchal dominance. The culture battle reached catastrophic dimensions mid-month, however, after Rush Limbaugh criticized activist Susan Fluke as a slut and worse over her attempt to testify before an otherwise all-male panel of religious leaders opposed to the birth control measure.
There's more. Rick Santorum sugar daddy Foster Freiss elevated the discussion by suggesting women simply place aspirin between their knees rather than rely on pregnancy-preventing pharmaceuticals. And who can forget the actual laws sponsored by Republican politicians in what could too easily be taken for a nationwide assault on the fairer sex:?From multiple attempts to redefine rape and restrict abortion rights; to party-wide calls for cuts to government aid for those including low-income moms; and even, in South Dakota, a bill that could have decriminalized murdering abortion doctors.
It probably doesn't help that a bomb was detonated this past Sunday at a Wisconsin Planned Parenthood. But then, how much more help could conservatives -- because let's be honest, this probably wasn't an act of Occupy Wall Street -- give to Democrats this election season, a campaign that many thought would be an easy win for the opposition party? Perhaps their next big idea involves repeal of the 19th Amendment.
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