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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Gender Gap May Give Obama Pivotal Edge

A lot has been written recently about the pro-Democratic gender gap, which has increased to a point where it could rank second only behind the economy as the decisive factor in the November elections. Linda Feldman of the Monitor does a good job of explaining why:

…Men and women have diverged in every presidential race since 1980. In 2008, Mr. Obama won 56 percent of the female vote (versus 43 percent for John McCain) and 49 percent of the male vote (to Senator McCain’s 48 percent), for a seven-point gender gap. For now, Obama leads Mr. Romney among women in major polls – by 20 points in the latest Pew Research Center poll, fewer in others – and is tied or trailing Romney among men.
The likely question for Obama, then, isn’t whether he will get more women than men to vote for him, but how big the margin will be. If Obama is to win, he will need a big women’s vote to offset an expected deficit in the men’s vote.
“The reason the gender gap is so important is not just the difference in points between men and women, it’s that there are more women than men overall, more women registered to vote, and a higher female turnout rate,” says Dianne Bystrom, director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University in Ames.

The Obama campaign is wasting no time in leveraging the trend, and is preparing to expand the gender gap as it relates to the upcoming decision on health care reform:

To mark the second anniversary of the law’s enactment on March 23, the campaign has created phone banks of women calling women voters in battleground states and released videos of women who had benefited from the [health care reform] law. The campaign also launched an effort called “Nurses for Obama.” The Democratic National Committee sent a million pieces of mail to women in battleground states. The Obama campaign’s goal is to inform women on the law’s gender-related benefits – such as a ban on charging women more than men for health insurance and no co-pays for mammograms and other health screenings – and build up a constituency for the law…If all or part of the Affordable Care Act is found unconstitutional, a real possibility, Team Obama hopes to tap into a newly energized base of women who will see their rights under attack.

It’s an interesting angle, and depending on the uproar over the Supreme Court’s ruling, it might prove to be a decisive factor on the election.

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