Looking back on the female vote for President since 1980, in only two years- 1984 (56%) and 1988 (50%)- did Republicans capture at least 50% of the vote. Reagan's high of 56% is particularly striking since in 1984 he ran against Mondale who had a female as his Vice Presidential pick. As that episode proved, and as the inclusion of Palin in 2008 proved, putting a female on the ticket is no guarantee of securing the female vote. Also, George W. Bush lost the female vote in both his runs for President, but still prevailed. Furthermore, the female vote takes on an added importance in close races in states considered "swing" states. Barack Obama won seven states- North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Nevada, and Iowa- that George Bush won in 2004 representing 105 electoral votes. From 2004 to 2008, the Democratic Party picked up 114 electoral votes which translated into victory in 2008.
The key among securing the female vote is not so much the vote overall, but making inroads in the white female vote in certain states. In the above example, if McCain had shaved just 5% off the white female vote in those seven swing states, he would have garnered an additional 80 electoral votes by winning four of those seven swing states- North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, and Indiana. He still would have lost the election by 32 electoral votes, but it would have been a lot closer which is a lesson the Republican candidate should be aware of in 2012. It is also a lesson that Bennett took advantage of in 2010 in Colorado where he managed to put together a coalition of young voters and especially white, female generally college educated individuals. Ironically, I believe the 2012 candidate can upset that formula even with the youth vote by emphasizing entitlement reform and how it benefits them specifically; however, given generally low youth voter turn out, the best strategy would be to seek the white female vote.
What Reagan's pollsters discovered in 1984 was that female voters cared most about economic issues. That is what makes 2012 look particularly tempting IF Republicans stick to basic economic themes- taxes, jobs, wages, the deficit and government spending. There are also the auxillary economic issues- Medicare, social security and true health care reform (focusing on affordability and portability). Perhaps, this is why Mitch Daniels proposed a "truce" on the social issues.
It actually makes intuitive sense to do so because a "truce" would be to the advantage of Republicans. Take, for example, probably the most decisive social issue- abortion. The most recent Gallup polls indicate that 52% of Americans believe that abortion should be legal under certain circumstances while another 21% believe it should be illegal. That is, close to 75% of Americans disagree with the more radical abortion-on-demand tenets of the feminist agenda. Only 36% of females are morally aceepting of abortion while more Americans describe themselves as pro-life than pro-choice (47-45%). Among certain family values parameters, only extramarital affairs are considered less morally acceptable. Taken together, it is obvious that although far from being settled, pro-life forces are winning the public relations battle. In essence, the feminist agenda has been pushed too far and the senses of the general public are now pushing back. Reading the agenda of NOW, it is obvious, given these poll numbers- especially among women- that it is organizations like NOW, NARAL, and Planned Parenthood that are way outside the mainstream when it comes to abortion. So, any "truce" would be a truce from a position of power.
Where it starts to get tricky is when the feminist economic agenda is set forth. Like most policy statements, it looks good on paper. Who can argue with equal pay? Who could argue with FMLA until you point out that it cost employers over $21 billion in a year? Without even getting off page 2 of NOW's agenda, I calculated over $150 billion in costs. Are these costs the government or employers can afford given the fiscal situation of the United States? For example, they call for increased social security benefits for widows and then propose including never-married women or divorced women as benefit recipients. "Care giving" is to be considered a job and quantitaively evaluated and a special tax credit given. These are pie-in-the-sky proposals that would never and should never see the light of day. I am serious- there is nine pages of this crap.
There is that old adage about providing fish and feeding you for a day, or teaching you how to fish and feeding you for a lifetime. That, in essence, should and must be the underlying policy of the Republican Party, not only with women, but with everyone. The greatest economic stimulus would be to allow people to keep more of the money they earn- whether earned by a male, female, or couple. That can only be achieved by downsizing the Federal government and returning it to its Constitutional roots. Hand outs from the government only creates a more insidious form of slavery which is ironic since feminists often construe traditional marriage as a form of slavery. In essence, they are throwing off the alleged shackles of one form of slavery only to sell themselves to a worse form of slavery. They demean women in the meantime because the government, especially if in the hands of the liberals and Democrats, becomes no better than a pimp or john, and they the prostitutes: "here's some money for your vote." Women are smarter than that and Republicans need to stress that fact.
Meanwhile, let the fringe feminists out there make their outrageous statements and proposals. When they make their proposals, point out the very real cost to the very women they allege to assist. When speaking of abortion, note the economic cost of that lost potential economic productivity sucked into a vacuum. When they insist on women or girls playing on boy teams, note the very real risk of injury and the potential costs. When they insist that they are "womyn" or that it is "chairperson, not "chairman," just roll your eyes and call them asinine. Given the problems this country faces, is the spelling of a word or a suffix really that important? In short, trivialize that which is trivial. Of course, because you believe there are very real differences between the sexes, you will be branded a "sexist." Just keep a copy of Gray's Anatomy nearby.
Remember the uproar when Henry Summers noted that women may be under-represented in math and technical professions because he dared propose a genetic factor at play. That was code, according to the feminists, that he was sexist. But, what if there were genetic or neurological differences? Are we to deny the facts of biology to advance a social agenda? And even if there are, does anyone deny that a genetic or neurological "shortcoming" cannot be overcome? This is how bizarre feminism has become- the denial of realities and facts and resorting to academic blackmail to stifle opposition. At least bra burning was more fun to watch.
There are certainly some things we can agree with in principle. For example, violence against women is a very real problem and it should be vigrorously investigated and prosecuted, but do we double the punishment because the victim was female? Violence is violence whether committed against a female, black, Hispanic, or gay. By elevating the status of the victim through hate crimes or such we begin to deny the inherent equality among the races or the sexes which kind of undermines the basic logic of feminists. Sexual harrassment is a workplace phenomena and a problem. But the most common infraction- the hostile workplace environment- was placed under Federal law by William Rehnquist, a noted Republican Supreme Court Chief Justice. Obama may tout himself as being for women because of his liberal stances on abortion and the like, but he is actually pandering to a minority of women and Americans. He may tout the Ledbetter Law as a defining moment in garnering the female vote and building up his pro-woman credentials. But, that law simply addressed a technicality in the statute of limitations in bringing pay disparity complaints before the EEOC- hardly a landmark in women's civil rights legislation.
As with any "special interest" voting block, the goal is not to flip the entire block over to your side. However unlike blacks, Hispanics, or union voters, achieving that with the female block is actually a possibility. I venture that not too many female voters want special White House positions created on women's issues or want preferential treatment in hiring, promotion, pay, or placement on sport's teams. I venture they want to be treated as equals provided they are equals. Equality of opportunity is one thing; equality of outcomes is quite another. The latter leads to essentially the liberal, Democratic, NOW agenda which has among its items: direct the EEOC to investigate systematic pay discrimination and order changes, establish Labor Department policies that enhance the needs and interests of women, more government contracts to female-owned businesses, ensure all jobs programs include jobs for women, increase SBA-backed loans for female businesses, mandatory 10% of Federal contracts awarded to female-owned businesses, include subcontractors in these contract awards, establish a cabinet-level White House position for women's issues, appoint more females to key positions at all levels of the Federal government. Quotas and czars- sound familiar? And I really hate groups like NOW as an example because as other polls indicate, these agenda items are not in line with the beliefs of the public at large, nor of the average woman. In fact, these women's special interest groups are actually fascist in their methods. I find it sad that women who exercise the choice not to follow the feminist agenda are put down. Is not choice their rallying cry? If that choice is at odds with what they feel is correct, why the vitriol and attacks? The reason is because of typical liberal strategy: when you realize your logic sucks, or that your facts are flawed, or that you have no facts to start with, attack through name-calling and appeal to authorities and the such. The one thing that drives liberals, Democrats, feminists, environmentalists, union leaders, etc. absolutely crazy is reasoned argument backed with facts. Personally, I give women more credit for seeing through these tactics than feminists give them credit for. Does that make me an uber-feminist?