Recent Debate Over Contraception Comes as GOP Loses Gains Among Women
The fragile gains Republicans had been making among female voters have been erased, a shift that has coincided with what has become a national shouting match over reproductive issues, potentially handing President Obama and the Democrats an enormous advantage this fall.
In the 2010 congressional midterm elections, Republican candidates ran evenly with Democrats among women, a break with long-established trends. That was a major reason the GOP regained control of the House.
Now, female voters appear to be swinging back to Democrats.
A number of polls show Obama’s approval among women has risen significantly since December, even as it has remained flat among men.
The same trend, which began even before the controversy in recent weeks, is also showing up farther down the ballot.
When the Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey asked last summer which party should control Congress, a slim 46-42 percent plurality of women said it should be the Democrats.
But in a survey released Monday, compiling polling since the beginning of the year, that figure had widened considerably to a 15-point advantage for the Democrats, according to polling by the team of Democratic pollster Peter Hart and Republican Bill McInturff. Fifty-one percent favored Democratic control; only 36 percent wanted to see the Republicans in charge.
Both sides have tried to shape the narrative in this battle for and about women. But many Republicans are beginning to wish they had never waded into what has become a heated conversation over contraception, who should have it and what it says about people who use it.