Monday, April 02, 2012


You may have seen that Barack Obama has opened up a big lead in swing states, according to a new USA Today/Gallup poll, primarily because more than 60% of women under 50 now support Obama in those states. Among all women in those states, Obama is leading by 18 points.

BuzzFeed is pointing out that, according to exit polls, Romney lost his 1994 Senate race to Ted Kennedy because he lost women's votes. Watch the news clip:

You can draw different conclusions from this. The easy conclusion is that Romney regularly has problems attracting female voters.

Another possible conclusion, though, is that his image among women gets hurt by boorish high-profile members of his own party. That year, the boor was Newt Gingrich. (Republicans did extremely well in elections in 1994, but as the clip also notes, Bill Clinton was more popular in Massachusetts at that moment than in any other state.) This year, it's ... well, pretty much everyone in the GOP. I'm not sure Romney has a strong enough personality to be judged on his own merits; he's judged, instead, as a reflection of others in his GOP cohort, because he seems like such an empty suit.

What happened in 2002, the only year when Romney actually won an election? Well, in late September he trailed his opponent, a woman named Shannon O'Brien, by 15 points among female voters. That was the moment when he decided to release a campaign ad in which he appeared shirless and in a bathing suit.

That doesn't appear to have worked -- O'Brien led Romney in the polls with a week to go. What seems to have turned things around was a late debate performance by O'Brien that was widely panned -- and it turned on an issue of reproductive choice:

During a pivotal debate with Romney, O'Brien said she supported lowering the age of consent [for abortion] to 16. When moderator Tim Russert pointed out that the same girl would not be able to get a tattoo without parental consent, O'Brien quipped, "Would you like to see my tattoo?" Neither the quip nor her abortion position helped on election day.

Being pro-choice was a vote-getter in Massachusetts (Romney said he was pro-choice then, too), but clearly there were limits.

I suppose Romney's going to try to get Barack Obama to go over a line like that. I think Obama knows where the lines are, however, much more than Shannon O'Brien did.

Meanwhile, Romney is going to take on the coloration of his party, as he did in 1994 (and possibly in 2002 -- remember, that was when a lot of non-conservatives decided they felt secure with George W. Bush). This year, I don't think that's going to help him.

(X-posted at Booman Tribune.)

1 comment:

Danp said...

Thank you, Steve. I was wondering how Romney ever won an election. Now I'm only surprised he hasn't challenged Obama to show his tattoos.