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GOP Faces Challenges on Economic Policy, Party Unity

As the GOP gears up for general election, the party faces challenges on economic policy and uniting its base around John McCain's White House bid. Analysts Andy Kohut and Amy Walter examine the challenges ahead for the Republicans.

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    For that, we turn to Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press; and Amy Walter, editor-in-chief of the Hotline, National Journal's political daily.

    Andy, you have some research on where things stand, for instance, with women, for with whom Republicans have often had a problem.

  • ANDREW KOHUT, President, Pew Research Center:

    And they continue to have those problems. The gender gap is alive and well. By a 26 percent to 41 percent margin, women self-identify as Democrats, not Republicans. And that's a 5 percentage point drop over the past four years in identification with the Republican Party.

    Among men, it's pretty evenly divided, 30 percent to 33 percent, 30 percent for the Republicans and 33 percent for the Democrats, but the split between men and women is pretty big.

    And we see that the image of the Republican Party among women has really taken quite a hit. And there's a pattern that suggests the Bush years, the impact of the Bush years, men continue to think of the Republican Party as better for terrorism, and better for foreign policy, and better on taxes, the things that Bush has really pushed.

    But for women, the Republican advantage is gone. It's not there on those issues. And, most importantly, we see now that on the issues that are prominent today — the economy, health care, energy — among women, the Republicans are far behind the Democrats, by 33 percent to 57 percent, which party you have most confidence in on the economy, a 24-point gap; on health care, it's 24 percent to 61 percent favoring the Democrats; on energy, 20 percent to 62 percent.

    So the Republican Party really has quite a disadvantage on the most important issues of the day among female voters, and more so than four years ago.

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