For weeks, WhoSaidYouSaid has been revealing what we expected to be the Democrats’ closing argument in the 2012 election: women’s reproductive issues. Since Pres. Obama and many Democrats down-ticket can’t run on the economy, that issue is what they’re left with to try and move undecided voters.
But even on the hard-left network Current TV, host Eliot Spitzer recently questioned NARAL’s Nancy Keenan on what happened to that purported gender gap. Keenan, whose strategy includes the pursuit of “Obama defectors,” pointed to the Obama campaign as proof positive.
“…I sure don’t remember ever when a presidential campaign was running ads in a battleground state on the issue of abortion,” said Keenan. ”And we are seeing this president run those ads, as a positive. It’s the first time that – quite honestly – the Democrats have been on the offense on the issue of reproductive choice, and not on the defense. And in fact so much on the offense, that the Republicans are trying to get into the game. And I think that’s why you are not seeing the kind of attacks and the raising up by the Republicans about this issue, because they know it’s a winning issue with women in this country…”
Well, maybe not quite winning enough. This morning, Michael Barone, who not only writes the Almanac of American Politics, but also seemingly carries it around in his head, sees the following trend:
“That tends to validate my alternative scenario that Mitt Romney would fare much better in affluent suburbs than have the previous Republican nominees since 1992, and would run more like George Bush did in 1988. The only way Pennsylvania and Michigan can be close is if Obama’s support in affluent Philadelphia and Detroit suburbs has melted away.”
“In particular, college-educated women seem to have swung toward Romney since October 3. He surely had them in mind in the foreign-policy debate when he kept emphasizing his hopes for peace and pledged no more wars like those in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Back on Sept. 28, we paraphrased an earlier Barone statement that…
“…In the last three election cycles, the party vote for President has closely tracked the preceding aggregate party vote nationally for the House of Representatives.”
…and went on to note…
“That may help Republicans if it holds true this year. For Democrats, if there’s significant erosion in enthusiasm and turnout among younger, single women, that may undermine the gender gap they’re counting on.”
A narrowing of the gender gap is confirmed in an AP poll showing Romney and Obama tied, 47-47, among women. The poll was of 839 likely voters, but bear in mind that a tie race is within any margin of error.
Amy Walter, ABC News Political director, credited Romney’s ability to come across as a moderate, reasonable candidate and potential president as confounding the Obama campaign’s strategy. She spoke at an Aspen Institute forum in Washington on Wednesday, carried by C-SPAN. (1:07:58):
“Remember, this is the Mitt Romney that the Obama campaign did not want to face. They didn’t want to make this race about the flip-flopping Mitt Romney. Because ultimately, a lot of people would say – who they needed to get on their side – ‘He doesn’t look that bad, right? He’s not that conservative.’ They needed him to be Extreme Mitt Romney, the Severely Conservative Mitt Romney.
“Which is why these ads – when you look at the most over-the-top negative ads have come from Barack Obama, not from Mitt Romney. These ads – most of you sit in the Washington, D.C., media market – you’ve seen the ads with the woman saying, you know, basically, ‘I will not have contraceptive and I will get cancer and die, because of Mitt Romney.’ Right? I mean, that’s essentially what they’re saying…”
Both Walter and Barone connect this to Romney’s performance in the foreign policy debate, but it’s also clearly a confirmation of Romney’s entire debate strategy.