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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

News From the War on Women -- Still a Disaster for the GOP

It's as close to official as we're ever going to get; a second major poll shows the biggest losses in the Republican War on Women are being taken by Republicans themselves (here's the first). A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that in an Obama-Romney matchup, the President "has double-digit leads over the likely Republican presidential nominee on who would do a better job of protecting the middle class, addressing women’s issues, handling international affairs and dealing with health care."

Not surprisingly, Obama wins the "who would you rather have a beer with" question. Obama "has a better than 2-to-1 advantage as the more friendly and likable of the two, and nearly that margin as 'more inspiring.'" These are basically personality questions and Obama wins by being the only one who actually has one.

But the biggest blow to Romney's Oval Office dreams is dealt by women:

Romney faces a huge deficit among female voters, one that more than negates his advantage among men and represents one of the biggest challenges he and his advisers face as they turn toward the November election. Obama’s edge among women gives him a clear lead among all registered voters in a matchup with Romney.

Adding to the GOP's problem is that their gas price demagoguery isn't paying off. Of three possible culprits, President Obama is the one Americans are least likely to blame. "US Oil Companies" and "Other oil-producing countries" take the bigger hits.


But the big news is that Obama leads Romney 51-43 among all voters, with women most responsible for that eight-point edge. Obama's lead among women voters looks almost insurmountable at this point; 19 points.

So far, the new Republican strategy for dealing with the fallout from their War on Women is to deny its existence. While this is a relatively recent tack and the poll doesn't reflect the results of this new strategy, I think we can safely predict that a message of "you ladies are just imagining things again" isn't actually going to be as helpful as they'd hoped.

But what else are they going to do? As I've pointed out before, state Republicans find themselves facing an improving economy and little of substance to actually complain about. So social issues it is. They almost literally have nothing else to talk about. They've tied their own hands with their frootloop rhetoric.

Consider embattled Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. On Friday, Walker signed three bills -- all of them dealing with fringe social issues:

Think Progress:

– A ban on abortion coverage in policies obtained through a health insurance exchange, set to be created under the federal health care reform law starting in 2014. The only exceptions would be in cases of rape, incest or medical necessity.

– A woman seeking an abortion must undergo an exam and consult with a doctor alone, away from her friends and family. The doctor must determine whether someone is pressuring the woman into the procedure. Doctors who break the law could be charged with a felony.

– Teachers in schools that offer sex education must stress abstinence as the only sure way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Declares that sex education teachers do not have to address contraception. That’s a dramatic shift from current state law, which requires teachers to instruct students on birth control options.

And Walker's facing a recall election that he may very well lose. You'd think he'd want to stay away from the sort of legislation that's currently bringing his party to its knees. But he just has nothing else. Republicans have set themselves up as the party that's against things. So, in a recovering economy, what else is there to be against?

And how can national Republicans dismiss a War on Women as Democratic propaganda while governors like Walker sign these anti-woman bills? And, given the economic conditions and the failure of gas price messaging to take off, what can Walker do but sign these bills to excite the base? it looks like there's a little bit of a hybrid death spiral/feedback loop going on here.

Republicans have painted themselves into a corner with women voters. Now they want to deny that the corner and the paint even exist.


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