Democratic attacks focused on the Republican "War on Women" aren't going away this midterm cycle.
At least, not when they could be key to Democrats’ hopes of holding onto the Senate, as a new Democratic survey released Tuesday indicates.
Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund and Democracy Corps commissioned a survey by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research of registered voters in Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina West Virginia, Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa and Louisiana — the 12 Senate battleground states where control of the upper chamber will be decided this fall.
The survey holds some troubling news for the party: Democrats trail Republicans 46 to 44 percent overall, and in more than half the states polled.
But Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg told reporters on a call outlining the poll that though Republicans hold a slight lead overall, Democrats are holding their own, and unmarried women could be the key to putting them over the edge in these competetive states.
"The elite pundit assumption is that it favors the Republicans in this very Republican battleground. That's not what we're seeing here," Greenberg said. "We're seeing that the Democrats, both with their own approval higher than the president, their own favorability, their competitiveness, have stabilized the race. The potential to change it is with unmarried women."
Still, the survey holds bad news on that front: Democrats in these 12 states are underperforming with unmarried women compared to their performance with that same voting bloc nationwide in 2010, a Republivan wage year.
In 2010, a national post-election survey found Democrats leading by a 20-point margin among single women, Democracy Corps found unmarried women favored Democrats in the 12 Senate battleground states by just an 11-point margin.
But the survey offered Democrats some hope heading into the final stretch of the midterms. It indicated messaging focused on working women and women's healthcare issues could sway unmarried female voters more heavily in the direction of Democratic candidates.
The party has never shied away from such issues, however, most recently Democrats have used the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling, which was lauded by Republicans as a win for religious liberties, to accuse Republicans of an attack on women’s access to health care more broadly.
But the Democracy Corps survey indicates Democrats may be better served with single women by a populist economic message, of which health care is just a part.
WVWV President Page Gardner outlined such a message, which emphasizes policies that help working women and families — like more affordable college tuition, protections for working mothers and equal pay and health care for women.
"Once there are messages that are aimed at their lives, there is this enormous shift," Gardner said of the poll’s findings. "The more these candidates do that, the more these women will pay attention."
The survey found that when unmarried women are confronted with such a message, they shift from just an 11-point margin for Democrats to a 20-point margin.
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner surveyed 1,000 likely midterm voters across 12 states from July 12-16 via cell phone and landline, and the poll has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.