Republican War on Women Backfiring

Republican War on Women Backfiring April 4, 2012

Since taking control of so many state legislatures last year, the Republican party has been engaged in a fierce war on women’s rights. Rick Santorum’s attacks on contraception have only made it worse. But it looks like that strategy is backfiring big time, pushing women away in droves and making it more difficult for them to win in November. USA Today reports:

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…

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.”

No, it’s been entirely fair. There have been literally dozens and dozens of bills submitted in state legislatures attacking reproductive rights, including several states considering legislation to medically rape any woman who seeks an abortion. The GOP is, absolutely fairly, getting hammered for it.

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  • No, it isn’t fair to judge the Republicans on what they actually do. If it were fair, then Republicans would be doing the same thing to the president, instead of making up a narrative that he’s a socialist/communist/islamic/hitler/foreigner who can’t actually think on his own, can’t give a speech without a teleprompter, raised taxes, cut the military, is kind to illegal immigrants, is soft on terrorists, and who is an illegitimate president, because he’s islamic (which, even if it were true, isn’t illegal), foreign born (which, even if it were true, doesn’t mean that he’s not a natural-born citizen), product of miscegenation (as if that has anything to do with anything), socialist (which, even if that were true, isn’t against any requirement for being president), etc., etc.

    In short, I can completely understand why the GOP don’t want to be judged on the facts: it’s something that they can’t fight with or against.

  • valhar2000

    Wow! I always thought that american men and women were, on average, hopelessly stupid to an equal degree. Looks like I was wrong.

  • Like I said before, this is why Santorum is now changing the subject to porn.

  • MikeMa

    Romney’s whirlygig ability to respond wildly to any puff of breeze may serve him well after he secures the nomination. We already see he can walk back (and forth) on any issue and he will have over 2 months to make sense of his audiences and their needs.

    The key will be whether women are worth more to him than social ultra-conservatives. His pick of VP may signal which group he values more. I’m not sure if he can get both to support him but the women (in theory) have a choice, the social conservative’s choice is to vote or not (barring a 3rd party loon running).

  • Larry

    Outside of xtian fundie stepford wives, I can’t conceive of why a normal, thoughtful, bright woman would ever vote for GOP candidates after seeing what they’ve been doing. Even if it doesn’t directly impact themselves, it will affect their daughters, nieces, and granddaughters for a long time.

  • Blondin

    Mittens’ course is clear – all he has to do is shake his magic Etch-a-Sketch and proclaim that he’s always been a dyed-in-the-wool feminist.

  • this is why Santorum is now changing the subject to porn

    This is indeed Santorum’s secret weapon! Once he consolidates support from all of the voters who have never masturbated or looked at porn, he will sweep into office!

  • mkoormtbaalt

    I think that this means Romney will try to get a woman as his running mate, someone similar to Sarah Palin in 2008 when she was unknown who can get the house and soccer moms on board with the GOP.

  • baal

    Next up this summer, a trailer from the Romney campaign, a tale of a tall Mormon standing toe to toe with a tall President and never ever having wavered once.

    I’m sure the media will call them on it.

  • Chiroptera

    The disparity in male/female voting patterns has always been surprising to me. It is obvious that there has to be a significant number of married couples who have very different voting patterns. Are political beliefs really so unimportant to people that differences like this can be ignored?

    And during the last couple of months, surely some of these women are realizing that there husbands have very little respect for them as human beings? What do conversations sound like?

    Him: How can you vote for Obama?

    Her: Are you a fucking idiot?

  • treefrog

    umlud in #1:

    No, it isn’t fair to judge the Republicans on what they actually do. If it were fair, then Republicans would be doing the same thing to the president, instead of making up a narrative that he’s a socialist/communist/islamic/hitler/foreigner who can’t actually think on his own, can’t give a speech without a teleprompter, raised taxes, cut the military, is kind to illegal immigrants, is soft on terrorists, and who is an illegitimate president, because he’s islamic (which, even if it were true, isn’t illegal), foreign born (which, even if it were true, doesn’t mean that he’s not a natural-born citizen), product of miscegenation (as if that has anything to do with anything), socialist (which, even if that were true, isn’t against any requirement for being president), etc., etc.

    You forgot the most damning accusation. He’s an atheist. (and yet somehow still Islamic)

  • treefrog

    mkoormtbaalt in #8:

    I think that this means Romney will try to get a woman as his running mate, someone similar to Sarah Palin in 2008 when she was unknown who can get the house and soccer moms on board with the GOP.

    Oh, please let it be Sarah Palin.

    Actually, I was thinking that Romney needs someone dripping with religious fervor to keep the theocrats interested in voting.

    Would Michelle Bachmann be too much to ask for? If so, the Daily Show is going to be gold this election season.

  • Michael Heath

    The Democrats should probably look to Michigan and Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s record to create a campaign meme in the general against Mitt Romney. Gov. Snyder is what’s now passed-off as a moderate in the Republican party. I don’t think he’s a moderate but instead a throw-back to what was once a mainstream conservative who like many from that time, doesn’t suffer from the mental deficiencies of modern-day conservatives.

    While I think Gov. Snyder’s doing a very good job on most of the big-ticket items, he’s still a Republican in a party dominated by social conservatives very focused on moving their agenda forward. So can we trust Gov. Snyder to veto his own party’s theocratic agenda? There are demonstrated examples that you can’t, with some other examples he has resisted his own party. So even though he personally passes off as not being bent on further restricting our liberty rights, I think it would be naive to assume he’d veto a major part of his own party’s platform.

    So from this perspective, the Democrats should point out how a Romney presidential win opens the gates to the Republican party’s wingnut theocratic agenda as demonstrated by the congressional Republicans in the House, with wingnut nominations to the SCOTUS which would certainly wreak catastrophic harm to the country for generations (which is arguably not hyperbole on the judicial angle, and certainly is when it comes to the House given the checks in the Senate). This approach would also complement national efforts for Democrats to do better in the congressional races in this Nov.

  • screechymonkey

    “No, it isn’t fair to judge the Republicans on what they actually do.”

    Exactly!

    It’s much more important to talk about reducing the deficit than to actually do it. As long as you declare yourself the party of fiscal responsibility enough times, it’s irrelevant that your budget proposals involve tax cuts that will balloon the deficit in the real world (as opposed to supply-side fantasyland).

    It’s much more important to talk about catching the “evildoers” than to actually do it.

    And it’s much more important to talk about how much you love and worship and abide by the Constitution, than it is to actually respect and abide by annoying things like the Establishment Clause.

  • John Horstman

    @3: Wait, he’s switching the focus to porn because now that he’s successfully alienated women, he wants to start alienating men?

  • naturalcynic

    Michael Heath:

    ?????????

    The thing that Rick Snyder is most noted for on a national scale is his autocratic and racist use of emergency legislation to deprive local governments of any control over their cities. Appointing political cronies to be local dictators against the wishes of mostly black cities is hardly something that can be construed as moderate.

  • jba55

    @16: Michael Heath doesn’t either:

    “Gov. Snyder is what’s now passed-off as a moderate in the Republican party. I don’t think he’s a moderate but instead a throw-back to what was once a mainstream conservative”

  • jba55

    Er, #17 should read “doesn’t think it’s moderate either”. I even previewed…

  • anandine

    Treefrog: Oh, please let it be Sarah Palin.

    Yes, yes. She’s experienced at running for VP.

  • Trebuchet

    The “We hate women, poor people, Hispanics, young people, non-Christians, union members, and old people” party succeeded in 2010 by convincing people to vote against their better interests. But you can’t fool all of the people all of the time, or even most of the people most of the time. The pigeons may be coming home to roost — at least I hope so.

  • Trebuchet

    I can’t believe I left out “LGBT people” in #20!

  • eric

    Trebuchet:

    The “We hate women, poor people, Hispanics, young people, non-Christians, union members, and old people” party succeeded in 2010 by convincing people to vote against their better interests.

    I think this is a dangerous oversimplification. (Dangerous assuming you want to win future elections against GOPers.) You make it sound like Democratic wins are demographically inevitable, only a matter of time. I doubt this for two reasons, and I think if Dems simply rest on their laurels, they’re going to lose lots of races in the forseeable future.

    (1) I think you underestimate the GOPs ability to change their messaging without changing their underlying economic and social policies. When young people become a larger voting bloc than old people (or hispanics overtake white europeans), they will simply re-message free market capitalism and puritanism to young people and hispanics.

    (2) I think part of the GOP appeal to people who “vote against their interests” is that they don’t think its against their long-term interests at all. They either believe they will be rich in the future, or that they are the ‘smart few’ who will gain a net advantage from privatization, deregulation, looser funding for religious entities, more control over their own education, etc., etc. Most such folk may be fooling themselves, but this is nothing new. Most everyone thinks they are an above average driver, too; GOP popularity in part rests on such cognitive biases, which all of us have to a greater or lesser extent. We all think we are above average in some way. Most all of us think we will succeed in climbing the social and economic ladder where most others have and will fail. Many folks vote to give Paris Hilton tax breaks because they plan on being as rich as Paris Hilton. No matter how objectively unlikely that dream is, it is not “against your interests” to vote for benefits that you really believe future-you will reap.

    If the Dems want to win elections, they can’t count on demographics to do the work for them. They’re going to need aggressive campaiging, an active rather than a passive strategy to win.

  • harold

    eric –

    (1) I think you underestimate the GOPs ability to change their messaging without changing their underlying economic and social policies. When young people become a larger voting bloc than old people (or hispanics overtake white europeans), they will simply re-message free market capitalism and puritanism to young people and hispanics.

    (2) I think part of the GOP appeal to people who “vote against their interests” is that they don’t think its against their long-term interests at all.

    I have a slightly different take.

    The current Republican party is essentially a “backlash snowball”.

    It started rolling with the Emancipation Proclamation (or maybe even in a very small form before that). It got bigger when women got the vote. It rolled over a patch of grass between 1929 and circa 1964, although a few flakes got stuck on as things like reduction of official censorship were passed. Then it got a lot bigger when official discrimination against “lazy minorities” was ended. It picked up some steam when birth control became widespread. Still, it was melting in the warm weather of economic prosperity. But then the economic shocks of the mid-seventies hit, and that allowed it to get rolling again. It rolled through the giant snow patch of gay rights. Right now, it’s very large, because of the election of Obama, who, although being to the right of Nixon on almost every issue, and having no actual genetic or cultural connection to people descended from enslaved West Africans (beyond being married to one), has a recognizably African physical appearance.

    Whether it will continue to grow or melt, I honestly am not sure.

    Since the backlash is always against a gain by the less powerful, when it is in force, it is always to the benefit of the already powerful.

  • Crudely Wrott

    “The focus on contraception has not been a good one for us … and Republicans have unfairly taken on water on this issue.”

    Say what?

    Listen: you swing the hammer and the nail goes in. That can be explained without either the hammer or the nail being unfairly taken advantage of. It’s How Stuff Works 101.

    Pray tell, what is it about cause and effect that you find so unfair, Sara Taylor Fagen?

  • screechymonkey

    eric @22: “I think part of the GOP appeal to people who “vote against their interests” is that they don’t think its against their long-term interests at all.”

    True, but I think the bigger part of that appeal is that people don’t like to think of their vote as being about their own personal interests.

    The very act of voting isn’t terribly rational from a purely self-interested standpoint, so the GOP is quite happy to have the electorate believe that they’re choosing between the party who’s “bribing them with goodies” and the party who’s “standing up for what’s right, keeping America strong, etc.”

    That’s where I think all of this “What’s the matter with Kansas”* talk goes wrong. Continually telling lower-income Americans that they’ll get be personally better-off if they vote Democratic (and/or acting shocked that they don’t realize that “fact”) just feeds into that story. It’s essentially inviting people to vote GOP and feel good about themselves for committing a selfless noble act, putting community and country ahead of their personal material well-being.

    *– I’m just using that phrase to refer to the topic generally; I haven’t read the book of that title and so can’t say if my comments apply to it.

  • plutosdad

    screechymonkey has it right.

    When I was Republican, i was offended by the idiotic “what’s the matter with kansas” book, and the entire concept of voting for your interests. Also people just seem to not understand many positions.

    For instance: As Ed has pointed out over and over, regulation has not hurt big business at all. But anecdotally I know small businessmen who are being crushed by regs and having to pay unemployment insurance (and they’re all Democrat being in Chicago). So last year when this was in the news I thought extending unemployment will be bad. I figured not extending it would make it easier for people I know to hire more. But a knee jerk reaction to that would be “zomg! you only care about big business and not people!!!one!” Now maybe I’m wrong about what’s best, but really, not many people bother with better arguments than anger and incredulity. And that’s all the book What’s the matter with Kansas was. One ignorant person not understanding others, and therefore calling THEM ignorant.

    Even now I don’t believe in voting for your own interests. Last year I was talking to someone about whether we should let the wave of foreclosures happen instead of helping people stay in their homes. Someone said “but then your home will be worth less and you’ll get stuck in it” and I say “so what?” I was seriously offended at her suggestion, and that she herself would vote based on what’s good for her and not for the economy and everyone else. If it’s the right thing, my own interests shouldn’t factor into it. Then I’m no better than all the other special interests. I’ve got to think what’s good for everyone is what’s right, not what’s good for me. And it’s just a matter of figuring out what’s best.

  • Michael Heath

    naturalcynic writes:

    The thing that Rick Snyder is most noted for on a national scale is his autocratic and racist use of emergency legislation to deprive local governments of any control over their cities. Appointing political cronies to be local dictators against the wishes of mostly black cities is hardly something that can be construed as moderate.

    You obviously have not been following the economy of Michigan for very long or have considered a perspective beyond those demagoguing this issue.

    The reality is that part of our state’s fundamental root cause economic weakness comes from certain localities grossly and often criminally mismanaging their finances coupled to the state pouring money for decades with no return on that investment. This malfeasance has been going on now for several decades. So the Michiganders I know, including liberals, are far more impatiently focused on getting some results than they are offending out-of-state partisan pundits’ abstract sensibilities.

    And while parts of the threats of this reaction provides rhetorical fodder for liberals looking to score on their talking points, the Democrats here who are earning kudos are the ones looking to contribute to fixing the problem, like Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.

    I also find this line of criticism incredibly ironic. We can look to the W. Bush years as a convincing argument on how defective conservative policy arguments are when implemented. But we can also look to the state of Michigan as a perfect example of how incredibly defective now-abandoned liberal policies once were. It doesn’t help that conservative policies at the state level (Gov. John Engler) and local level (lack of investment in infrastucture) have amplified the damage done to this state.

    From the perspective I think is reality, the analogy of Rick Snyder working diligently to address long-ignored fundamental problems which have laid waste to some our liberally-run municipalities is perfectly analogous to Barack Obama attempting to do the same to the U.S. in the post-W. Bush era.

  • Michael Heath

    eric writes:

    I think part of the GOP appeal to people who “vote against their interests” is that they don’t think its against their long-term interests at all. They either believe they will be rich in the future, or that they are the ‘smart few’ who will gain a net advantage from privatization, deregulation, looser funding for religious entities, more control over their own education, etc., etc. Most such folk may be fooling themselves, but this is nothing new.

    One theme that came out of videos interviewing Tea Party events was working class people supporting movements like the Koch brothers because their employers claimed the Democrats’ policies would put them on the street without a job. These younger Tea Partiers were arguing for tax cuts and deregulations because they felt, not thought, that would better insure their long-term employment.

  • Michael Heath

    plutosdad:

    When I was Republican, i was offended by the idiotic “what’s the matter with kansas” book, and the entire concept of voting for your interests. Also people just seem to not understand many positions.

    Your argument has me speculating that you never actually read Thomas Franks’ book given the enormous strawman you make of his actual thesis. Did you?

  • Michael Heath

    plutosdad:

    Even now I don’t believe in voting for your own interests.

    That’s never been a factor for me either.

    plutosdad:

    Last year I was talking to someone about whether we should let the wave of foreclosures happen instead of helping people stay in their homes. Someone said “but then your home will be worth less and you’ll get stuck in it” and I say “so what?” I was seriously offended at her suggestion, and that she herself would vote based on what’s good for her and not for the economy and everyone else. If it’s the right thing, my own interests shouldn’t factor into it. Then I’m no better than all the other special interests. I’ve got to think what’s good for everyone is what’s right, not what’s good for me. And it’s just a matter of figuring out what’s best.

    Given that there hasn’t been any effective programs to keep people in default on their loans in their homes, we observe the devastation of this position.

    Have you ever studied the general ramifications of deflation? There’s a reason economic majors walk out of their classes with their profs stridently drilling the idea that contraction is to be avoided at nearly all costs.

    Do you realize that the difference between resale and new construction prices was never wider than it was last year, about 49% IIRC? Do you realize how weak the residential construction sector remains and how that is a primary sector keeping our economy weak?

    There’s a compelling argument that residential lenders were incredibly stupid in 2007 – 2009 in not actively engaging in loan modification programs to stave off the amplifying feedback we encountered with the bursting of the housing bubble coupled to the related financial crisis. That their refusal to do so led to the devastating drop in home prices, so when they got those foreclosures back, their proceeds after carrying those foreclosures and selling them generated far greater losses than if they’d done loan modifications. I.e., that an argument can be made they should made loan modifications outside of one person’s self-interest.

    As a residential developer and a Realtor, I see this in actuality every day. I see houses that would cost $130,000 to build sell for $40,000 with Fannie Mae getting $30,000 out of that, not counting their carrying cost losses. I see building departments with no more building inspectors since new construction has dried up so much, that they now subcontract the work needed for the occassional remodel or commercial permit. The vast majority of people I used to work with no longer even live in my area because they lost their job, their healthcare, their home, and for many – their spouses.

  • Ichthyic

    .

    So from this perspective, the Democrats should point out how a Romney

    actually, you’re overthinking this Michael.

    Obama’s campaign managers have realized for over a year now that they need do absolutely nothing to win the next election.

    They instead just need to AVOID doing anything that could backfire on them, which is exactly what they have been doing for the most part.

    This election was over before it began; there never were any serious republican contenders slated even a year ago. The GoP has no real plans to win this election; I’m sure they do for the next one though, and the midterms.

  • Ichthyic

    I see houses that would cost $130,000 to build sell for $40,000 with Fannie Mae getting $30,000 out of that, not counting their carrying cost losses.

    This is stated, but without reason or context.

    WHY, exactly, is this an important figure?

    does it suggest lesser demand for housing?

    does it suggest houses are deliberately being undervalued? If so, by who, and to what advantage?

    Fannie would rather get 60K than 30K surely, so you can’t be suggesting THEY are the ones responsible for undervaluing houses.

    so, what is the point in mentioning this, Michael, other than being concerned you aren’t making as much money in real-estate now as when houses were tremendously OVERvalued due to an unrealistic speculation bubble?

  • Chris from Europe

    Who says that liberals in Michigan can’t be racists? Proposal 2, for example, passed with 58 %.

  • Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven

    Wow! I always thought that american men and women were, on average, hopelessly stupid to an equal degree. Looks like I was wrong.

    The split you’re seeing is because they’re equally hopelessly stupid, but also self-interested.

  • Michael Heath

    I wrote earlier:

    I see houses that would cost $130,000 to build sell for $40,000 with Fannie Mae getting $30,000 out of that, not counting their carrying cost losses.

    Ichthyic writes:

    This is stated, but without reason or context.

    WHY, exactly, is this an important figure?

    I did note why, because as long as home prices are greatly deflated, new home construction will suffer, where the residential construction market is a major job sector. There are other negative implications as well which I didn’t mention:

    1) reductions in federal and local government revenues since property taxes are a function of value, where these foreclosure sales depress all neighboring homes as well.

    2) Depression of home prices reduces people’s leverage (their borrowing power). This extends across the entire population of areas with depressed home prices, which is nearly completely pervasive across the U.S.

    3) People who are not in default on their loans but want to move can’t afford to because they can’t afford to sell their home, i.e., the amount they owe plus the cost of selling their home is greater than the value of their home and their savings. This makes it harder in a poor job climate for those who can a get job elsewhere to take the job. We’ve lost an enormous amount of liquidity in the job market and the housing market, and not just value.

    4) And the one factor I shouldn’t have to mention that should be obvious to anyone following the American crash, taxpayers have bailed out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to the tune of about $150 billion with more in store: http://goo.gl/tXk6f . The higher the foreclosure rate, the more foreclosures being marketed for sale, the lower the prices, the more the federal taxpayer has to spend to bail-out Fannie and Freddie.

  • Michael Heath

    Ichthyic writes:

    so, what is the point in mentioning this, Michael, other than being concerned you aren’t making as much money in real-estate now as when houses were tremendously OVERvalued due to an unrealistic speculation bubble?

    As I pointed out earlier, the drop in the prices of resales reached such an enormous difference with new home construction, the construction sector has dried up in many areas of the country. That’s a primary reason the economy hasn’t bounced back with a healthier rebound. And these prices are far below the cost of construction, so they are no way a corrective to a bubble that puts us back in equilibrium.

    And I mentioned this anecdote to illustrate to plutosdad that deflation like we’ve encountered in the residential housing sector negatively effects all of us, not merely those who lose their homes through foreclosure.

  • Chris from Europe

    Plutosdad:

    But anecdotally I know small businessmen who are being crushed by regs and having to pay unemployment insurance (and they’re all Democrat being in Chicago). So last year when this was in the news I thought extending unemployment will be bad. I figured not extending it would make it easier for people I know to hire more.

    How will they be able to hire more when their customers run out of money or the customers’ customers etc?

  • Michael Heath

    plutosdad writes:

    I know small businessmen who are being crushed by regs and having to pay unemployment insurance . . .

    Which sectors? Which regulations? Is this “crushing” a recent event and if so, which new regulations are crushing them? You don’t think their ‘crushing’ has anything to do with a drop in aggregate demand?

    How much has their unemployment insurance rates gone up? What is the root cause of this supposed increase?

  • DaveL

    I did note why, because as long as home prices are greatly deflated, new home construction will suffer, where the residential construction market is a major job sector. There are other negative implications as well which I didn’t mention:

    One thing I don’t think you mentioned is that leaving a home unoccupied leads to actual physical changes that diminish its value over and above any changes to the market at large. It means nobody is there to notice that the roof has started leaking, or that the igniter in the furnace has gone out, or that a family of racoons has moved in. It also means the house becomes an easy mark for copper thieves.

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