By Markos Moulitsas - 03/27/12 10:30 PM EDT
President Obama rode a gender gap to victory in 2008, winning women by a 56-43 margin while narrowly edging Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) among men, 49-48.
Nearly four years later, under assault from conservatives, women are flocking to the Democratic Party in even greater numbers. And it’s not hard to see why: There’s a full-on Republican war against women.
After Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke testified to Congress about a friend’s need for birth control for non-reproductive medical reasons, Rush Limbaugh spent three days trashing her, calling her a “slut,” “whore” or variation thereof a grand total of 53 times, and even demanded she post videos of her having sex online so he could see “what we are getting for our money.” If women had any question about how Limbaugh and his brethren see them, he left no doubts: “Here’s a woman exercising no self-control. The fact that she wants to have repeated, never-ending, as-often-as-she-wants-it sex — given.”
Even though 1 in 5 women has used Planned Parenthood services, Republicans have made the organization a favorite campaign-stump target. Indeed, formerly respected anti-cancer charity Susan G. Komen for the Cure destroyed its brand overnight by cutting off funding for the organization at the behest of its conservative leadership. And if all that weren’t enough, Republicans are now opposed to the usually routine reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, ostensibly because of efforts to expand its protections to undocumented immigrants and same-sex couples. With Republicans, there are categories of women they hate more than others.
These stands have taken a serious toll on the Republican brand among women. According to the latest polling by Public Policy Polling for Daily Kos and SEIU, only 28 percent of women have a favorable view of the GOP, with 58 percent viewing them unfavorably. The numbers are nearly reversed for the Democratic Party: 51 favorable versus 39 unfavorable. In that same poll, Obama is the beneficiary of a 20-point gender gap, with women viewing him favorably by a 53-44 margin.
Pew has found a similar gap in its latest general- election matchups. “Women favor Obama over Romney by 20 points — virtually unchanged from a month ago — while men are divided almost evenly (49 percent Obama, 46 percent Romney),” the pollster reported. “This gender gap is particularly wide among voters under age 50. Women ages 18-49 favor Obama over Romney by nearly two-to-one (64 percent to 33 percent), while men the same age are split (50 percent Obama, 46 percent Romney).”
Given Republican difficulties with Latinos, African-Americans, Asians, Jewish voters and young voters, you’d think they’d back off efforts to alienate yet another important voting constituency. And unlike ethnic minorities and young voters, women actually vote — they were 53 percent of all voters in 2008. No matter how much the GOP gains with white men, it’s going to be difficult to overcome greater deficits among enraged and highly motivated women.
Moulitsas is the publisher and founder of Daily Kos (dailykos.com)