Political Animal


April 02, 2012 9:30 AM Culture-War Backlash

By Ed Kilgore

For a good part of the last month, conservatives deeply invested in culture-war issues, or in the career of Rush Limbaugh, or in the idea that American women secretly want to go back to the good old days before feminism ruined everything—yeah, those kind of conservatives—have been periodically cheering any bit of public opinion evidence indicating anything less than an impending disaster for Republicans among women.

Hope they enjoyed it before they read this:

President Obama has opened the first significant lead of the 2012 campaign in the nation’s dozen top battleground states, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, boosted by a huge shift of women to his side.
In the fifth Swing States survey taken since last fall, Obama leads Republican front-runner Mitt Romney 51%-42% among registered voters just a month after the president had trailed him by two percentage points.
The biggest change came among women under 50. In mid-February, just under half of those voters supported Obama. Now more than six in 10 do while Romney’s support among them has dropped by 14 points, to 30%. The president leads him 2-1 in this group.

How are you going to explain that one, feminist-haters? Are the little ladies just too mathematically challenged to notice rising gas prices, the overwhelming, dominant issue of 2012?

At The Hill, Republican blogger Christian Heinze does offer a counter-argument against the poll’s bottom line, suggesting that the inclusion of WI, NM and MI as “swing states” skews it because Obama is almost certain to easily carry all three. I’m certainly interested to learn a Republican is willing to concede WI so early. But in any event, Heinze’s objection doesn’t explain the vast and increasing gender gap, or the likelihood the GOP has now dangerously raised expectations for a major cultural counter-revolution among its Christian Right-Tea Party base, while alarming a lot of women that they may well mean it.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • walt on April 02, 2012 9:38 AM:

    Even John McCain, that vituperative relic, is aghast at what the party is doing here. But Republicans can't help themselves. Their base strategy more or less demands constant mobilization against the heathens of modernism. I actually doubt that most Republican males are that upset about contraception. Their real desire is just for the us vs them experience of cultural grievance. A party based on little more than conjured outrages is doomed.

  • Robert on April 02, 2012 9:44 AM:

    Watching the ebb and flow of poll numbers on a national scale is all well and good, but the real "battle ground" is in the State Houses, where the Koch bros. have made a concerted effort to steal the government away from the people. President Obama, and the rest of the big money candidates will be able to take care of themselves, where as the local contests are going to be drowning in out of state cash. I just hope the National Democratic Party helps out the poorer candidates to win back the majority in the state houses. I have also noticed the corruption has sunk to a new level in Western Colorado at the County level with the county commissioners doing the heavy lifting for the Koch Industries, to drill and frack at the head waters of the Colorado River. I wonder what Vegas, and LA think about drinking the poisons that will be released into their water. The corrupt are many, the corrupt will do anything for money.

  • SYSPROG on April 02, 2012 9:56 AM:

    I'm glad that the Republicans are sending out their operatives saying 'women will come around because Ann Romney is SO popular'...what a bunch of sanctimonious aholes. AND they are sending out MEN to say it. I for one don't TRUST them. It isn't just Rush...it isn't just CONGRESS...it is the Republican Governors. They thought they could ram this thru like 'voter fraud' and we'd just be outta luck. There are no amount of WORDS that will turn MY vote.

  • Basilisc on April 02, 2012 10:09 AM:

    Next on the right-wing to-do list: repeal the 19th amendment. After all, the founders certainly never intended women to vote.

  • Equal Opportunity Cynic on April 02, 2012 10:14 AM:

    Basilisc: If only we hadn't let them start getting driver's licenses....

  • Diane Rodriguez on April 02, 2012 10:16 AM:

    Great post Robert. The state and local contests are critical. I have held off contributing to Obama's campaign in favor of key state races around the country as well as the ACLU. The Democrats desperately need to regain the House and a larger majority in the Senate.

    Although I am sure there are a few Republican males out there who aren't completely reprehensible, none come to mind. Instead the smell of fear and desperation wafts about in great waves. The loss of status and power is especially devastating for groups whose power has been self identified as innate. The attempt to diminish women is entirely predictable as is the attempt to diminish people of color. The inevitable truth is that evolution is constant, albeit slow, and the Republicans have always embraced “father knows best” rather than "adapt or die".

    I sincerely suspect that many Republican women in the 50+ age bracket will not embrace misogyny in the privacy of the voting booth.

  • Hedda Peraz on April 02, 2012 10:39 AM:

    Every month there comes a time that women are reminded physically, emotionally, and financially that Republicans do not care about them.
    Men don't have a similar reminder.

  • Ian A on April 02, 2012 10:43 AM:

    Am looking forward to the opening of Repub's "Sluts for Romney" PAC, as they attempt to woo the women they've lost.

  • Barbara on April 02, 2012 10:52 AM:

    As if anyone could actually believe that women would rather leave themselves (and in my case, my daughters) open to being "probed" (a nice word for being raped) in exchange for maybe saving a few pennies on gas -- itself unlikely given that Romney and all the Rs are more or less threatening to start yet another major military action in an oil producing country.

  • LiberalGRIT on April 02, 2012 10:57 AM:

    Has anyone found a link to the internals of the poll? I'm trying to find the numbers for NC specifically (go tarheels!).

  • jason on April 02, 2012 11:14 AM:

    Ed Schultz uses the word slut and dems recruit him to run for u.s senate.

    Limbaugh wants the gop to lose as his ratings are higher with Obama in office.

    No one asked limbaugh to run for the senate like the dems did with schultz.

    David axelrod obama's top strategist called a woman a dog.

    Dems grovel to mahr and olbermann who are real woman lovers.

    I hate the hypocrisy.

  • Maritza on April 02, 2012 11:23 AM:

    The problem with the Republican blogger's comment is that the USAToday/Gallup poll isn't the only poll where Obama is beating Romney. Even Rasmussen has Obama beating Romney in Virginia, Nevada, etc. Other polls ie Quinnipiac, Marist/NBC, and PPP polls have other individual states in which Obama is beating Romney other than WI, NM, and Michigan.

  • TCinLA on April 02, 2012 12:04 PM:

    Interesting that the idiot gives away Wisconsin, since I have Democratic-activist friends there who say it's a definite toss-up still - hell, Scott Walker's recall is still a toss-up! But if the morons want to concede early, there's no reason to stop them.

  • Mimikatz on April 02, 2012 12:05 PM:

    Well, duh. Quell surprise! Some of us were predicting this when the Komen-Planned Parenthood stuff started. Men have NO idea what a difference contraception made for women and how many women revere Planned Parenthood for setting them free. Moreover, while men may see all this as just more of the game of politics, for women, who bear the consequences, the fear is that it is for keeps, and they really can't take that chance.

    Finally, Romney has a fatal flaw in that a great many women feel that he just can't be trusted. That is the kiss of death in a man. Ann Romney will have zero effect,, especially when matched against Michelle Obama.

    This was a stupid, stupid but eminently predictable move for the GOP. May they go down in flames without ever really understanding why.

  • sparrow on April 02, 2012 12:33 PM:

    I have no idea how the Republicans could come to the conclusion that their attacks on issues that are important to women would be a winning issue for them come November, but stupid is as stupid does, I guess.

  • Rick B on April 02, 2012 1:41 PM:

    Modernism means the urban industrial culture. The major beneficiaries of modernism are Blacks, women, and most recently LGBTQ individuals. Notice that these are all targets of the conservatives with their demand to return to the culture of the rural agricultural society that was America before WW II.

    Is it any surprise that the displaced older elites (white males) are going heavily for conservative Republicans and attacking women's contraception while defending the man who murdered a Black teenager? Or that Blacks, Hispanics, women and LGBTQ individuals who are watching the conservative idiocies in the states the tea party took are tending to shift to Obama?

    If that really surprises you then you are very probably an older white male who grew up hunting and fishing, or you are around a lot of them, or you might be the favored son of a small town lawyer, a preacher, a person of wealth, a doctor or a politician.

  • low-tech cyclist on April 02, 2012 1:57 PM:

    Certainly the biggest thunderclap of that poll was the 61-30 edge for Obama among women under 50.

    But the second-biggest one, which the article never overtly stated, was also pretty important: in the swing states, Obama has a double-digit lead among men under 50.

    They didn't say that, but they did say two things about the swing states that make that result unavoidable:

    1) Romney has a 1% edge among men overall.
    2) Romney has a 56-38 edge among men over 50.

    Those can't both be true unless Romney's taking a double-digit beating among men under 50. QED.

  • Robert Abbott on April 02, 2012 3:54 PM:

    This morning the local ABC affiliate ran a story about a "study" that purports to show that hormonal birth control pills may be an aphrodisiac! That was their tease. Then they came and reported on it. So now we have scientific proof that Limbaugh was right! Reno is, of course, a Republican constituency so I presume the affiliate's research team tells them that this is what their audience wants to hear.