GOP candidates struggle to appeal to women voters

The Takeaway

On Tuesday, Mitt Romney won the votes of single and working women in the Ohio GOP primary by a strong margin.

About 45 percent of unmarried women voters cast their ballots for Romney, and he won the votes of working women by 8 points over Rick Santorum. Romney’s win in the swing state was due largely to these female votes. 

According to The Christian Science Monitor, Romney won the female vote by taking a more moderate stance on women’s issues and delicately avoiding questions about Rush Limbaugh. After Limbaugh’s misogynistic outburst last week, the talk show host’s popularity among Republicans fell dramatically.

Jennifer DeJournett, president and co-founder of Voices of Conservative Women, a non-profit organization that gets women involved in politics, said the Republican party must appeal to women voters if they hope to win the election in November. 

“I think everybody knows that women’s votes are key to winning, they out-vote men,” said DeJournett. “As far as the social issues, the left has been very effective at using women and using women’s issues to do that.”

During the last election cycle, that was certainly the case. In 2008, women cast close to 10 million more votes than men, and these women favored Obama over McCain by a 13-point margin. 

Recent polling shows that women voters feel alienated by the GOP candidates’ stance on women’s issues, particularly in regard to contraceptive access. Rather than comment on what has quickly become a hot-button topic, both Romney and Santorum have taken to side-stepping the discussion of women’s issues to focus on the economy and job creation during public appearances.

DeJournett sympathized with the candidates’ tactic.

“Unfortunately we all need to turn around and decide that if our economy keeps failing, then all of our choices are being made for us so we all need to get back on message,” DeJournett said.

DeJournett said Limbaugh’s statements were damaging to the party.

“The right keeps walking into it. Rush Limbaugh’s comments were not helpful. Any reasonable person would say that,” DeJournett said.

As of Wednesday, more than 30 advertisers, including J.C. Penny, Netflix, and AOL had announced they will cease advertising on Limbaugh’s show. 

“The Republican party really does need to make an effort in 2012 to speak to women voters and use the ambassadors in the party to do that,” said DeJournett.

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