Published on TheHill.com on April 24, 2012
The Democratic PR machine has convinced the mainstream media that the Republicans have so alienated American women that a huge gender gap is looming that will propel Obama into a second term in the White House.
The data show how fatuous this claim is. Rasmussen’s polling — the best, because he samples likely voters — shows Romney running 12 points better among men than among women. But in the presidential election of 2008, Obama actually did carry women by 12 points more than men (he won women by 13 points and men by 1 point). So there is, indeed, no growth in the gender gap.
In fact, the gender gap is smaller now than it has been in recent history. In 2004, 2000 and 1996, the gender gap was larger than it is in the Rasmussen poll — and in the election of 2000 it was much larger.
Gender gap in recent presidential elections
Year/percent by which women voted Democrat more than men:
1996: 15 points
2000: 22 points
2004: 14 points
2008: 12 points
Current Rasmussen poll: 12 points
So, at the start of the Romney campaign, he is running better among women than Dole did or Bush did in either of his national races.
The Democrats hope that by duping their always-susceptible mainstream media allies, they can spread propaganda about the gender gap in the hopes of provoking one by reporting one. But the fact is that Romney’s defeat of Santorum in the GOP primaries has established a basis for women trusting Romney not to go overboard on social issues.
In a real sense, the Democratic campaign strategy has never adjusted to the fact that Romney is the nominee, not Santorum or Gingrich. With the contraception issue and the Pennsylvania senator’s unique views on separation of church and state, the Democrats were eager to run against Santorum. And with the legacy of Gingrich’s government shutdown hanging over his head, they wanted to run against Newt. But it is not going to happen. The Democrats will find it is futile to paint Romney as anti-woman or to bill him as a Neanderthal extremist who will subject needy people to what one commentator called a “reign of terror” with budget cuts. It just doesn’t fit with Romney.
Instead, Romney’s campaign has skillfully spoken of the vastly disproportionate job loss among women during the Obama administration. Ninety-two percent of the employment losses in his three disastrous years have been in jobs held by women. One reason for the artificially low unemployment rate we now see is that more than 20 million people have left the labor force since Obama took office. A great many of these are women who have elected to accept a lower income, discontinue daycare and stay at home with their children once they have lost their jobs. It will not fail to dawn on these mothers that Obama took away their choice by subjecting them to ruinous economic policies.
In 1996, the Dole campaign never got used to the fact that it was opposing the Bill Clinton who signed welfare reform, set the budget on a track to balance and cut capital gains taxes. Instead, it wanted to run against the old version of Clinton — the liberal big spender who had lost the election of 1994 to Gingrich’s forces. Similarly, the Obama campaign has never made the pivot from facing Santorum or Gingrich to opposing Romney.
Its rhetoric about the savage Tea Party right is just obsolete and it can’t let go of it. To do so would be to require it to do the one thing it cannot possibly afford to: run on Obama’s record.