Is the Obama administration alienating women? The right-leaning Washington Times claims that it is. However you're feeling about our president these days, there are reasons to be deeply skeptical of their reasoning.
(Note: the URL says, "Obama loses women's support," but the headline is "Obama courts jilted female followers." It's like he rejected us before we even had a chance to reject him! Men are such pigs!).
The story notes that along with African Americans, women helped win the election for Barack Obama, both with turnout and with higher percentages. Then came the "shellacking" of the 2010 midterms:
Female voters defected from the Democratic Party in historic numbers. Postelection surveys found female voters preferred Republican congressional candidates over Democrats, 49 percent to 48 percent - the first time in at least 30 years that Republican candidates received a majority of women's votes.
Indeed, women were 53 percent of voters in the midterm elections, and their support for Democrats was down from 56 percent by eight points. But at least in the literal sense, they weren't voting for (or against) Obama; they were voting for state and congressional representatives.
New DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (she's a woman!) conceded in an interview with The Times, "Women make so many of the economic decisions in households. And so the struggle economically is really borne by women, especially women who are heads of their own households."
All of this is pretty unobjectionable, except that it's then followed by a litany of content-free quotes from Republican hacks in which they rehash talking points about taxes and stuff like "[women have] been seeing not only their budgets but their choices limited because Washington is deciding for them." The Obama administration and its surrogates have more to point to (it helps to be in charge), like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, two female Supreme Court justices, and healthcare reform. (No one mentions Don't Ask Don't Tell being repealed, but it disproportionately affected women.)
And then there's holding the line against defunding Planned Parenthood despite House Republicans' best efforts to shut down the government over it, though the Senate deserves major credit on that. Enter this curious paragraph:
Republicans counter that a majority of Americans favor defunding Planned Parenthood, whose services include abortion, and that female voters are being turned off by the Democrats' policies of higher taxes, more regulation and interference in local education issues.
A majority of Americans? Interesting assertion. According to a Democratic pollster, "By a 64-28 margin, registered voters are against ending government funding for PP, an organization which is viewed positively by 55% (and negatively by just 25%)." Presumably the Republicans, or the Washington Times paraphrasing them, is referring to a poll conducted for the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List, which proclaimed that "a majority of Americans – 54 percent – oppose giving tax dollars for family planning services to organizations that perform abortions."
In that poll, respondents were asked how they felt about federal funds going to "family planning services going to organizations that provide abortions." Conveniently, there seems to have been no mention of the fact that the Hyde Amendment prevents federal funding for abortion except in extremely limited cases, and that however many times Republicans use the word "fungible" Planned Parenthood can't and doesn't use federal funding to pay for abortions. Indeed, the poll went out of its way to focus on abortion, asserting, "Polling questions that include the just the name 'Planned Parenthood' and exclude the word 'abortion' are incomplete and misleading." Because that just makes people remember that free birth control or STI test they got — liars!
It's not that we think Obama should take women for granted in the next election — and it doesn't sound like it's in the plan anyway. But Republicans ideally get to find out the fun way what their uterus obsession and brutal budgeting will mean for women's votes. That is, by losing them.