SALT LAKE, April 15, 2012 – Obama’s strategy for the upcoming general election pretty much follows the template he applies to any problem: divide. Apparently his advisors think it will be a winning one for him this time around, even though it has delivered some epic rebukes since 2008.
For example, he has sought to solidify his popularity among women, which waned in 2010. But by manufacturing a controversy over birth control, he has (so far) moved a debate over the First Amendment to one about reproductive choices. The gambit earned him a bump in polls, one that is almost sure to be short lived.
Unless Mitt Romney implodes, women will likely cross to the Republican column as they did in the midterms two years ago. Then, when the ruling majority was rejected as no majority had been in decades, Republicans earned the support of a majority of women, a first since exit polling began measuring such support.
It was so significant because President Obama won the women’s vote handily in 2008, when he hauled in women’s votes to the tune of a 13-point advantage over John McCain.
That was no surprise. Obama broke a lot of new ground that year, and Republicans fared poorly across the board. Women tend to vote for younger candidates, and the president spoke to issues concerning women in a way that McCain simply could not.
Twenty-twelve is no 2008, though. President Obama’s support among women, though strong in some polls, is not rock solid. He loses to Romney among married women, and his favorability among the entire bloc has eroded in the past two months.
If there is one correlation in the recent poling that stands out above all else, it is that women favor the more likeable candidate. Democrats are gleeful that the president has a commanding lead in that key metric, perhaps unaware that Romney has just emerged from a bruising primary, in which it is a bit harder to come across as friendly when one is trying to pulverize his opponents.
Now that Romney has the nomination in hand, he’ll stop attacking other Republicans and get on his general election message. Meanwhile, the president is beginning to reveal himself as thin-skinned, petulant, and even childish.
His high numbers among women will continue to slide as the contrast between the Cynic in Chief and the candidate of Hope and Change becomes increasingly evident.
And the general trends don’t even favor Romney nearly as much as the specific issues on which women’s votes will turn.
With jobs unavailable, soccer, the PTA, after school programs, and all of the other traditional mom issues take a back seat. Romney can successfully argue that the president has made life tougher for women across other demographics.
Choice doesn’t ring as meaningful when the economy is stagnating.
Gas prices, too, are a constant reminder to the moms who have to haul kids back and forth from school that things aren’t improving fast enough. Unless President Obama can get a pipeline done in less than five months, fuel will continue to put a drag on economic growth, and his support among women.
The Affordable Care Act is almost dead on arrival. Romney, with his experience in getting a popular (and constitutional!) health care reform plan implemented at the state level, is the perfect candidate to talk about effective reforms nationally.
His party will have a plan ready to be signed into law on Day One. The president, on the other hand, has admitted he doesn’t even have a Plan B. So women will have to decide if they want to give the guy who failed on healthcare a second chance, or go with a proven reformer.
Making that prediction is not a tough one.
Kids and Grandkids
Romney fell far behind the president in likeability in the most recent poll, but the majority of voting Americans don’t yet know who the GOP presumptive nominee is.
They will judge him by his kids, and theirs. Romney’s 16 grandkids are a testament to his success in fatherhood, which plays well to women. Talking about grandkids will close the gap. Moreover, having his kids fanning out across the country will help voters connect with Romney.
If kids and grandkids bring Mitt Romney additional support, his wife Ann locks it in. She is beautiful, well-spoken, and obviously a wonderful mother.
The target of criticism from the now (in)famous Hilary Rosen for being a stay at home mom, Mrs. Romney tweeted in response, “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.”
Ann Romney exemplifies the fact that women’s issues are not always exactly what liberal Democrats want them to be. She is an obvious asset to her husband’s campaign, and will make women feel comfortable voting for him.
The general atmosphere, along with Romney’s specific tactics are precisely why women will stay in the Republican column this year.
Learn more about the author at Rich-Stowell.com
Rich is a teacher and a soldier. In addition to writing the “Rich Like Me” political column at the Washington Times Communities, he is the author of Nine Weeks: A Teacher’s Education in Army Basic Training; Tunnel Club; and Not Another Boring Textbook: A High School Students’ Guide to their Inner Conservative.
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