By Ramsey Cox - 04/23/12 09:30 AM EDT
More voters think Mitt Romney and the Republican Party respect women who work outside the home than think President Obama and the Democrats respect women who stay at home, according to the latest The Hill Poll.
Forty-nine percent of likely voters said the presumptive GOP presidential nominee respects women who have independent careers, while 27 percent said he doesn’t and 24 percent weren’t sure.
Both candidates are trying to court the female vote, which could determine the winner of the presidential election in November. Women outnumber men in the United States and they also vote at a higher rate.
On the issue of which candidate better understands women’s issues, Obama has a slight advantage over Romney with all voters, 42 percent to 40 percent, but that was a statistical tie given the poll’s 3-point margin of error.
When it came to just women voters, 46 percent said Romney better understands their issues while 41 percent said Obama is better.
There was also a statistical tie when it came to which political party is better for women, with 42 percent of all voters saying Republicans and 41 percent Democrats.
Democratic activist Hilary Rosen reignited the debate between homemakers and working women during an appearance on CNN earlier this month, where she said that Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, couldn’t speak to real women’s issues because she “actually never worked a day in her life.”
Ann Romney shot back on Twitter, writing: “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.”
The merit of women staying home versus having a career has been a long-standing debate, most famously brought up in presidential politics when Hillary Clinton — then campaigning for her husband, Bill, in 1992 — said she could have stayed home to bake cookies but instead decided to continue her career outside the home.
While The Hill Poll results didn’t reveal a pronounced gender bias on any of the questions, there was a stark difference in the answers between single voters and married voters.
Single voters were far more likely than married ones to say that Obama is better on women’s issues: 54 percent of singles held that view against 35 percent of married voters. Conversely, Romney was chosen by 47 percent of married voters and 26 percent of singles.
Fifty-five percent of married voters said Romney respects women who work outside the home, while 36 percent of singles said he did and 38 percent said he didn’t.
Forty percent of married people said they didn’t think Obama respects women who stay at home, but 39 percent of single people said he does.
A CBS/New York Times poll also conducted last week showed that Romney leads Obama among married women 49 percent to 42 percent. But Obama leads Romney among single women 62 percent to 34 percent. That poll had a 3-point margin of error as well.
According to U.S. census data, single women now slightly out number married women, so poll results could indicate Obama will be slightly better off in the female vote in November.
Independents mirrored the full results when it came to Obama and Romney’s respect for women who work in and outside the home.
Forty percent said Romney respected women who have careers outside the home, while 23 percent thought he did not. But independents were split 32 percent to 32 percent on whether or not Obama respected women who chose to stay at home.
On each question, slightly more than a third of independents said they were not sure, which means they might yet be swayed by the opposing campaigns.
Nearly three-fourths (74 percent) of likely voters said they consider women whose main role is homemaking to be working. Only 17 percent said it’s not working and 9 percent were unsure. That was true across gender, age, ideological and income levels, but not when it came to race. While 79 percent of white voters said homemaking was work, just 46 percent of blacks agreed, with 25 percent saying it wasn’t but 28 percent saying they were not sure.
Pulse Opinion Research conducted The Hill Poll of 1,000 likely voters on April 19. View the crosstabs here.