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Democrats make push to appeal to women in 2014 elections

BY Domenico Montanaro, Terence Burlij and Simone Pathe  April 8, 2014 at 9:04 AM EST
UNITED STATES - APRIL 02: Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., waits for her colleagues to arrive before a news conference on the Senate steps of the Capitol to support equal pay for women and an increase in the minimum wage. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., waits for her colleagues to arrive before an April 2 news conference on the Senate steps of the Capitol to support equal pay for women and an increase in the minimum wage. Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Today in the Morning Line:

  • “Equal Pay Day”
  • Why women matter to 2014
  • Scott Brown to make it official Thursday
  • Mudslinging in Mississippi

The Morning Line

Democrats try to fire up women: In a coordinated effort with congressional Democrats ahead of this fall’s midterms, President Obama will sign two executive orders intended to elevate women’s issues. The orders would: (1) allow government and federal contract workers to talk freely about their salaries without fear of retaliation, and (2) require federal contractors to report salaries by sex and race. He will speak at an 11:45 am ET event at the White House on the disparity in women’s pay. On Capitol Hill, at least eight Senate Democratic women will speak on the floor beginning at 2:15 pm ET to urge passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act. The measure is unlikely to move forward given Republican opposition. Democrats are hoping to highlight another Todd Akin-kind-of moment (like, say, calling the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee “emotional,”) to crystallize the need for women to get out to the polls. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took to the Senate floor Monday to hit former CIA chief Michael Hayden for that comment about Feinstein. Democrats will try to get Republicans to take the bait. The question is whether they will in the next seven months. By the way, Republicans are pushing back against the statistic Democrats tout, that women make 77 cents for every dollar their male counterparts make. They point to a study from the conservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute, which shows women working in the White House make 88 cents for every dollar earned by a man there.

Why women matter: Maybe more than any group, women are key to Democrats’ fortunes. They are 53 percent of the electorate. President Obama won them by double-digits in 2008 and 2012 and cruised to victory. But Republicans narrowly won them in 2010, when Democrats suffered big losses. In 2006, when Democrats won control of the House, they won them by 14 points. What’s more, in every presidential election but two since 1976, women have voted with the winner. (The two exceptions were 2000, when Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the electoral count, and 2004.)

SOURCE: National Exit Polls

SOURCE: National Exit Polls.

The pot of 10 million unmarried women: Another key here in a midterm, however, is not just women as a whole, but, in particular, minority and unmarried women. In 2010, for example, turnout dropped among minority and unmarried women. Black women and Latinas combined were down as a share of the electorate 2 points from 2008 (10 percent vs. 12 percent) and 4 points from 2012 (14 percent). Unmarried women were also off 2 points as a share of the electorate (21 percent vs. 23 percent) from 2012. Those numbers may sound small, but they can mean millions of votes. Consider: more than 10 million fewer unmarried women showed up to vote in 2010 than 2008. That’s one-in-three unmarried women, who decided to stay home. Yes, turnout is always down in midterms, but that outpaces married/unmarried men or married women. Democrats and the White House see and know those numbers. They’re the group Democrats are aiming at directly.

Black and Latina women
2012: Black women 8% of electorate, 96-4 Obama | Latina 6%, 76-23 Obama
2010: Black women 6%, 92-6 Democrats | Latina 4%, 65-33 Democrats
2008: Black women 7%, 96-3 Obama | Latina 5%, 68-30 Obama

Unmarried women
2012: 23% of the electorate, 67-31 Obama
2010: 21%, 61-36 Democrats
2008: 20%, 70-29 Obama

2014 wrap – Brown to make it official Thursday: Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown will formally launch his Senate campaign in New Hampshire Thursday. Consider Brown’s decision to challenge Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen the unofficial kickoff to the 2014 campaign, with no other major holdouts (as far as we can tell) left on the board. First quarter fundraising numbers are trickling in, and vulnerable Democrats seem to be holding their own. Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Kay Hagan, D-N.C., outraised their challengers. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., also raised a healthy sum. Those numbers, of course, don’t take into account outside spending from establishment Republican groups looking to shore up viable primary candidates. National Journal reports that nearly a month before the primary, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is expected to endorse North Carolina state House Speaker Thom Tillis, who also earned the support of National Right to Life on Monday. North Carolina remains a strong GOP pick-up opportunity, and a potential bellwether, but Tillis is going to need all the shoring up he can get to compete with the $8.3 million war chest Kay Hagan announced Monday.

McDaniel tries to tie Cochran to Obama, Jimmy Carter: With the June 3 primary in Mississippi less than two months away, Sen. Thad Cochran went up with his first negative ad of the cycle, slamming state Sen. Chris McDaniel for hesitating when asked if he would have supported disaster relief funding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. That Cochran, who’s served in the Senate since 1979, went negative suggests he may be concerned about the outside money supporting McDaniel. And with good reason. Cochran is the only GOP senator the Club for Growth’s political action arm is challenging this cycle, and they’re planning to go all in against him on Tuesday with a six-figure ad buy that ties the veteran GOP lawmaker to Mr. Obama and former President Jimmy Carter. Senate Conservatives Action is releasing a positive spot backing McDaniel Tuesday. Despite outside involvement against Cochran, as the AP notes, Mississippi tends to re-elect its incumbents; a senator hasn’t lost a nominating contest since 1942.

LINE ITEMS

  • The Senate approved a measure on Monday to restore jobless benefits to long-term unemployed workers. The vote was 59-38, with six Republicans joining with 53 members of the of the Democratic caucus to support the bill. House Speaker John Boehner has said the proposal will not pass his chamber in its current form.
  • Sens. Chuck Schumer and Ted Cruz joined together to block Iran’s new ambassador to the United Nations from entering the U.S. The Senate approved their measure on a voice vote Monday.
  • The Ouachita Citizen posted a surveillance video Monday that appears to show freshman Rep. Vance McAllister, R-La., kissing one of his congressional aides. McAllister, who has been married for 16 years, touted his Christian faith in last fall’s special election campaign to replace former GOP Rep. Rodney Alexander. McAllister released a statement Monday “asking for forgiveness from “my God, my wife, my kids, my staff and my constituents who elected me to serve.”
  • Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said Monday he would sign a bill decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana. The Democrat said in a statement that passage of the measure “is an acknowledgement of the low priority that our courts, our prosecutors, our police, and the vast majority of citizens already attach to this transgression of public order and public health.”
  • The Daily Beast’s Ben Jacobs writes about the parody video sent out Monday by Republican donor Foster Friess that features Adolf Hitler complaining about ‘Obamacare.’ In 2012 Friess ran into controversy over comments he made about contraception.
  • Florida’s former CFO Alex Sink blames low independent voter turnout for her special election loss in the 19th congressional district last month, and told the Tampa Bay Times that she’s still considering a November challenge to newly elected Rep. David Jolly.
  • Keep an eye on the Rundown blog for breaking news throughout the day, our home page for show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.

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Questions or comments? Email Domenico Montanaro at dmontanaro-at-newshour-dot-org or Terence Burlij at tburlij-at-newshour-dot-org.

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