Santorum’s Problem With Women Could Be His Glass Ceiling
In this, the most topsy-turvy primary season since polling began, we have seen Rick Perry, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich all peak and fade. At this point, Gingrich is the only one of them left in the race, and his star has fallen so fast that the panic he briefly caused the establishment has passed.
The establishment must now cast a wary eye on the former senator from Pennsylvania, whom voters there rejected in 2006 by 18 percentage points. Party pros watch as Santorum doubles down on his statements regarding social issues from education and the environment to abortion and contraception. They wince as he speaks of the president’s “phony theology … not based on the Bible,” and his spokeswoman alludes to “radical Islamic policies.”
But the new front-runner’s words should not be what worries Republicans most — Santorum’s biggest problem lies in his numbers.
He might well win the Republican nomination if he remains the hero of the Tea Party and the social conservatives who include many white evangelicals and traditional Catholics.
But as such, can he win in November? Specifically, can he win among women?
Attracting the votes of women was already the No. 1 affliction for the GOP in 2012. Nominating a candidate who personifies the gender gap in American politics is not a likely antidote.
Four years ago, John McCain of Arizona had trouble with several categories of voters: people younger than 30, people of color and women. But women mattered most because women cast a majority of the total vote.
That’s right. In 2008, women cast nearly 8 million more votes than men did: 53 percent of the total. And that was a big problem for McCain because he got only 43 percent of the female majority.