In Iowa, the 2008 gender gap was 5 points. This year it was 15. Ohio swung from a 2-point gender gap in 2008 to 10 points in 2012. Virginia saw a 5-point swing, from 2 points in ’08 to 7 this year. Florida went from a 1-point gender gap to a 7-point gap in 2012. The only swing state that didn’t see a significant gender gap this time around was Colorado.
The media treated the “War on Women” as being primarily about reproductive issues, but not so the Obama campaign. Team Obama knew that the issue that women cared about the most was the economy, and reminded women constantly that the hostility the GOP shows toward the government could leave single women in a perilous situation. Republicans ridiculed “The Life of Julia,” but it was a brilliant campaign outreach tactic that showed how a Romney administration would affect women in a way that left nothing to the imagination.
Adding to the alienation of women voters this year were deeply troubling comments from GOP Senate candidates about rape, a tirade by Rush Limbaugh calling a woman a slut for testifying about the availability of birth control, and so on. Yes, Bill Maher is a pig and says terrible things about women too, but voters don’t view him as a leader in the Democratic Party in the same way Limbaugh is viewed in the GOP. Also unhelpful to the GOP cause is the constant insistence that there is no wage discrimination against women—a stance that led to the mocking of the Lily Ledbetter Act, a milquetoast measure protecting women from salary discrimination that any decent person should support.