Republicans Should Be Courting Women, Not Alienating Them

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In this unpredictable and shaky Republican campaign, there is one thing that has been certain – the main issue to be concerned with is the economy. As it has always been in times of economic crisis, a candidate’s position on the economy has been a deciding factor for his/her supporters or antagonists. However, this single stable component of the campaign has lost its stability. In the past few weeks the topic of women’s reproductive rights has graced the table of conversation – causing some Republican moderates, mostly women, to reconsider their alliance.

Another thing that has always been certain is that Republicans need women voters, Democrats having won the overall women’s vote from 1992 to 2008. Republicans should be doing whatever they can to keep one of the most important electoral swing groups, but it seems like Romney and Santorum simply do not care. And what could be more disenchanting than a political party that doesn’t care about you?

The latest comments from the Republican candidates that are extremely right wing have been enraging their women supporters, and even some of the men. First, Mitt Romney responded indifferently when talk show host Rush Limbaugh called a Georgetown University law student a “slut” and a “prostitute” for her advocacy of insurance coverage of contraception. After that, Rick Santorum spoke out against prenatal testing and caused uproar.

Moderate Republican, as well as liberal, women who planned on voting for Romney, or even Santorum are now reconsidering. Many did not know they cared so much about these issues themselves until contraception and abortion were recently brought up in interviews for the Republican primaries. Most Republican women have already decided their opinion on abortion. They believe that this issue was solved 40 years ago during Roe v. Wade and should no longer be touched; they also believe that the discourse on contraception is ridiculous, unneeded, and also long ago decided.  

Randi Brown, a Pennsylvania high school student, says, “In all, while I mostly disagree with their positions, what makes me angrier is that these issues are at the forefront of a campaign during a recession and two wars.” This opinion is more common than one would think and is making an already wavering campaign even less stable.

This previous summer, when a Wall-Street Journal-NBC News survey asked which party should control Congress, 46% of women favored Democrats and 42% preferred the Republicans. Since then, that figure has widened, giving a 15-point advantage for Democrats. Now only 36% of women want to see the Republicans in charge and these numbers will continue to go down if this gratuitous and antiquated conversation continues to occur.

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