Published on TheHill.com on September 18, 2012
There is no gender gap. There is a marriage gap. A Sept. 13 poll I conducted (912 likely voters, national sample) found that while married white women back Romney by 55 to 40 percent, unmarried white women back Obama by 60-32! Since unmarried white women are 45 percent of all white women, this marriage gap poses a huge problem for Romney — the central problem.
In his recent off-the-record comments, Romney characterized his opponents’ supporters as relying on government entitlements and handouts. He said that 47 percent of Americans get checks from the government and are likely to vote for the hand that feeds them: the Democratic Party.
He is half-right. Of those who get government checks, a bit more than half (about 30 percent of all Americans) get means-tested welfare payments through programs like Medicaid, food stamps, welfare, housing subsidies and such. The remaining 17 percent of the population do get government checks, but they are Social Security, Medicare, veterans’ benefits or the Earned Income Tax Credit. They get these benefits because they have paid into the Social Security and Medicare funds over the years or have served our country or work for a living but get supplemental benefits to get out of poverty.
But the ranks of those who get means-tested benefits are insufficient to win this election. It is only when they are joined by unmarried women — some of whom get benefits but many of whom do not — that Romney’s opposition swells its numbers and becomes a threat.
The Democratic convention was aimed squarely and almost exclusively at these unmarried, white women. Its focus on abortion, contraception and equal pay all hark back to the party’s historical advocacy of their rights and support for their difficult lives as single mothers.
But the reality is that it is not Republican insensitivity that is hurting America’s single mothers, but a failing economy. During the Obama administration, 90 percent of the job losses have been in women’s jobs. Democrats answer that men lost their jobs at the start of the recession since they tend to work in cyclical fields responsive to the economy’s ups and downs, like construction. But the long-term stagnation of the economy has gone beyond those afflicted with the business cycle and have cut deeply into the ranks of women in occupations — like teaching and nursing — not traditionally dependent on cyclical changes in the economy.
Whether these single women work in the private sector, where Obama’s economic failures have left them bereft, or in the public sector, where the economy has sapped tax revenues, they are still losing their jobs to the president’s economic policies.
Single women need to reconsider voting based on the old issues of abortion, contraception and equal pay. (Romney is a moderate on these issues.) But how about voting based on your ability to make a living?
Obviously, the feminization of poverty has left many single women dependent on government aid, be it daycare, subsidized housing, welfare, Medicaid or food stamps. But their larger interest is in getting good jobs at good pay — like they did before Obama took office. Or have they given up? Are they so beaten down that they identify not with those who are looking to move up but with those who are stuck at the bottom?
Could it be that Obama’s recession and economic stagnation — and even his socialism — are truly self-perpetuating? That the more he ruins our economy, the larger the base of government-dependent voters? Could this motivation have played a part in his adoption of policies that he might have known would lead to economic failure? Could it all be deliberate?
And, more importantly, will it work?
Not in the United States of America it won’t. Ambition, competition, confidence and hard work still dominate the American spirit regardless of gender or marital status. Obama’s lead will be short-lived. It will truly be he who, in fact, is betting against the American worker.
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