New Polling Puts Women Voters In Sharp Focus

BY Tiffany Mullon  July 13, 2012 at 3:12 PM EDT

A woman votes in the New Hampshire primary in January. Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Democrats and Republicans alike acknowledge one of the main keys to success at the polls this November lies in luring women voters. Both sides were out targeting that critical demographic in force this week as new polling data shed light on ways both parties could use the gender gap – still very much alive and well – to their advantage.

A Washington Post/ABC poll out Tuesday showed President Obama and challenger Mitt Romney in a dead heat among registered voters: 47 percent to 47 percent. But that same poll showed the president up by eight points among women nationally.

And another set of data suggests that gender gap could hold steady, especially in swing states. New polling research from the progressive group EMILY’s List released Wednesday shows just how critical women could be in crucial battleground states this November.

After surveying 950 independent women without college degrees in 13 battleground states, the group found President Obama had a solid edge with this critical voting bloc with 48 percent to Romney’s 40 percent. Democrats fared better overall in the poll, enjoying a seven-point lead in a generic trial race for Congress.

EMILY’s List president Stephanie Schriock said in a statement: “In these tough economic times, independent women voters want candidates who will focus on putting them back to work, support equal pay, and protect vital programs like Medicare and Social Security.”

With that research in mind, the group on Tuesday released an ad in Wisconsin supporting Senate hopeful Rep. Tammy Baldwin.

And while a group of women’s rights organizations, including the National Organization for Women, jointly endorsed President Obama for reelection on Wednesday, Republicans are by no means willing to concede defeat, believing they can garner women’s votes by talking about the economy. In fact, respondents to the EMILY’s List poll showed independent women gave Republicans an edge in “having a concrete plan to grow the economy.”

This week American Crossroads, the Karl Rove-affiliated super PAC, debuted a new web video targeting women voters. In it the narrator says: “Some people say there’s a ‘war on women.’ We agree — it’s a war being waged in our economy.”

The ad references a National Women’s Law Center study saying 800,000 more women now live in poverty than when the president took office in January 2009 and a July Bureau of Labor Statistics report reporting 750,000 more women are unemployed.

Another poll this week highlighted areas where Mitt Romney fares far better with women. A Quinnipiac Poll showed President Obama drawing just 37 percent of white women without a college education. It also showed the so-called marriage gap flips the gender gap with women: while single women break enormously for President Obama 60 percent to 31 percent, among married women Romney leads 49 percent to 42 percent.