Single women could be a deciding factor in the 2014 midterms. Democrats know they’re the key to keeping the majority in the Senate, so how do conservatives push back against war on women narratives?
The Republican Study Committee hosted a panel about these issues facing conservative women earlier this month.
The Wall Street Journal Kimberley Strassel, who moderated the panel, said reaching women voters is one of the pressing issues facing the conservative movement. Strassel noted how the war on women narrative has been the deciding factor in a multitude of races, which is why it remains salient in Democratic messaging. She used the 2013 gubernatorial elections to juxtapose the impact women; especially single women have on elections.
Republican Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. On election night, Ken Cuccinelli was defeated in a state more welcoming to conservative positions.
While in blue New Jersey, Christie pretty much dominated every demographic; he got 51% of the Hispanic vote, 21% of the African-American vote, and won women voters – with a woman running on the Democratic ticket. He’s pro-life, against gay marriage, cut Planned Parenthood funding, and vetoed legislation to have it re-instated.
Yes, he’s pretty “conservative” by Northeastern standard (he still shouldn’t be considered for 2016), so how why did Cuccinelli lose?
There are a multitude of factors, but when single women break for your opponent by a margin of 42 points, don’t expect a victory.
Rep. Kristi Noem of South Dakota – an at-large congressional district – said her state has the highest percentage of working-women than in anywhere else in the country. She said when she ran in 2010, her opponent, then- Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, was immensely popular and a Blue Dog Democrat. But, Noem said her ability to connect with the voters, and to discuss the issues and policies being drafted in Congress and how those will impact them at home.
Rep. Noem said that while Joe Voter is drawn to policies that ensure financial security and lead to more money in their pockets, women voters want to see authentic individuals take the stage. “They want to see somebody who – yeah has suffered, has struggled a little bit maybe, but wants to do work and will work hard and that they can see that and translate that everyday,” said Noem.
One area that will need work is the reformation of the welfare state. Noem added that she tells people at her town hall events that Washington is spending money on programs that we’re going to benefits from by making our kids foot the bill. She describes that as morally wrong.
That message could resonate, but Noem admitted that there’s no piece of legislation out there to fix our current trajectory. She also said that saying these things once to voters isn’t enough; you need to keep reiterating your message.
Mattie Duppler of Americans For Tax Reform also mentioned how Obamacare is a perfect example of how to reach women voters, especially with the new taxes within the law. She cited the 10% excise tax on tanning salons, which are businesses mostly owned by women.
Duppler added that moms can no longer pay for over the counter drugs through their health savings accounts – and that the taxes aren’t impacting health insurances companies; they are hurting women.
Strassel noted that Duppler’s run down of the changes in how we run health care hurts women can serve as a place where conservatives can market their policies, show that they’re are better, and how they can benefit everyone, especially women; but don’t for fear of participating in gender-identity politics. Is it time for conservatives to shift strategy and directly address women?
Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) agreed. She said at one of her events at a Rotary Club, women submitted questions for a Q&A and demanded to know the specifics about policy and how it affects them in their lives. How what’s coming out of Washington will impact their ability to ask for a raise, improve the job environment, and shape the economic future for their children.
Women are looking for legislators that have a piece of legislation and a plan to execute it, according to Rep. Blackburn. They “understand government doesn’t create jobs, businesses create jobs,” she said.
Former Congresswoman Musgrave, who’s now with Susan B. Anthony List, and Charmaine Yoest, President and CEO of Americans United For Life, spoke about how economic issues usually veer into the social ones. They noted that more and more young people – and women – are becoming pro-life; that 60% of women support bans on abortion 20 weeks into a pregnancy; and that women find sex selective abortion appalling. These are areas where the pro-life movement can make inroads with voters.
Yoest aptly noted that liberals “ don’t have a monopoly on being pro-woman.”
Then again, Noem said previously that Republicans aren’t the best when it comes to marketing the Party’s position of economic policies. The same can be said for social issues; Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin will forever be textbook examples in how NOT to talk about rape and abortion.
Although, one highlight is the fact that the Congresswoman from South Dakota stressed the authentic individual, one who has experienced some hardship that could be part of the emerging populist wave that could potentially sweep the nation.
The congresswoman highlighted that women tend to be better at talking with people than at them. Voters like to be assured that their representative also listens as much as he – or she – speaks. This is something President Obama doesn’t seem to grasp well.
Oh, and Congresswoman Ellmers made a rather unfortunate statement that the GOP needs to bring their messaging “down to a woman's level,” according to Washington Examiner’s Ashe Schow.
Well, the road to improvement doesn’t come without hitting a few speed bumps.