Mildly Conservative Women Abandoning the He-Man, Woman-Hating GOPS

In news that comes as absolutely no shock to anyone, the Grand Old Party is losing support among what has been a key demographic of voters since 1920 — women. How could this be? Republican presidential candidates have made women — specifically women's health — the emerald centerpiece of their campaigns. I mean, they talk about women all the time, which, gee, you'd think might translate into more support among women, though nothing could be further from the truth.

Centrist women who previously (and reliably) voted Republican are souring on conservative rhetoric that puts too much emphasis on the social implications of their ladyparts and not enough emphasis on a worsening Middle Eastern conflict or a still-tenuous economy. Though a survey conducted by the New York Times and CBS yielded only anecdotal data, a general sentiment prevailed that women were tired of listening to what's started to sound like the return of the "culture wars" (as if they ever ended). Fran Kelly, a retired public worker who voted for McCain in 2008, told the Times, "Everybody is so busy telling us how we should act in the bedroom, they're letting the country fall through the cracks." The GOP is letting its gains among women fall through the cracks too, since, by the time of the 2010 mid-term elections, more women had swung right.

Now, however, in the wake of Rick Santorum jumping into the spotlight with what might as well have been a pot and a wooden spoon, decrying prenatal testing and women serving on the front lines of the military, many of those gains are being erased. Compared to Obama's 57% support among all women, GOP front runner and yachting magazine advertisement Mitt Romney commands only 37%, and he's pretty much the closest thing to reasonable left among the primary candidates.

Republican candidates are losing those swing voters in the center, swing voters who merely want to see Roe v. Wade protected and who would like to hear more about what they see as broader-picture issues such as foreign policy and the job market. Instead they're treated to televised debates where audience members boo gay servicemen while the Commander-in-Chief hopefuls sit like birds on a telephone wire, just staring, blinking, and trying to act natural. Check that — the GOP right now is like a group of people who got together to build a tunnel to China. Never mind about geology — they would do it. As more and more people abandoned their deranged mission, they faced a choice: stop the senseless, ineffectual and painful labor and admit that maybe digging to China is stupid, or put their heads down and sing Christian hymnals to spur one another on. I think it's becoming pretty clear which direction they decided to go in, so someone might want to give a heads up to that delegation waiting for them in Shanghai that maybe it should put the champagne back on ice for a while.

Centrist Women Tell of Disenchantment With Republicans [NY Times]