It’s tough to be the one at the party the girls don’t want to dance with. It’s not that they’re not willing to be a lady’s partner. Republican men and women just brought the tools with them they found at home, thinking what they use to woo all voters will charm the votes out of most women, too. Instead, they just end up appearing “intolerant” and “stuck in the past.” They’re like Brendan Fraser’s character in Blast from the Past – all Ozzie & Harriett and Ray Conniff Singers in a world of Nicki Minaj and Echosmith. But unlike Brendan, they’ve shown up at the midterm sock-hop with all the creepy charm of Eddie Haskell.
That’s not to say the Democrats have women swooning. The GOP has a 49 percent disapproval rating among female voters, according to their own poll, while the Democrats are disliked by 39 percent. But this is a Republican poll, and the relatively narrow margin, when one is talking about half the electorate, has given the party of Palin a way to claim that there aren’t any winners.
“I don’t think any party can do a victory lap here,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, Thursday. His spin? A ten point difference is actually good news, here. It means, he said, if they “push back on what the Democrats are selling out there in the field, you can actually win women over.”
That poll was part of an overall report titled, “Republicans and Women Voters: Huge Challenges, Real Opportunities,” and was revealed, Thursday, by Politico. It was commissioned by Karl Rove and other groups that support the GOP.
What it is the “Democrats are selling” is respect for women, their right to choose what to do with their bodies, affordable healthcare for their families, and pay equity in the workplace. Those are indisputable policies that are part of the platform of President Obama and every member of Congress with a “D” after their name.
Republicans were assured by former House majority leader, and now former congressman, Eric Cantor, that most women want charter schools and flexible work schedules, which according to the poll is certainly not the case. Even if it were, ideas like that couldn’t make it through his congressional colleagues because it involves the government getting involved in people’s lives (extra-uterully) and in private enterprise.
The “push back” Priebus was referring to is the GOP strategy to acknowledge the social differences and re-direct to the economic ones. “[D]eal honestly with any disagreement on abortion, then move to other issues,” Politico quotes the report as saying.
“The general gist of [the GOP report] was,” Priebus said, “the economy is the number one issue.” After dismissing the emphasis on social issues, like reproductive rights, as important only to pundits, he added, “If Republicans talk about things like the economy, the debt, make the case for jobs and schools and education, and push back,” Republicans will win.
The GOP thinks economic issues resonate because they’re family issues, and in their world, women are the family bookkeepers, always aware of the bottom line. If that’s true, it might explain why Republicans do so much better with married women. “Married women prefer a Republican over a Democrat, 48 percent to 38 percent,” Politico revealed. The article goes on to quote Dan Conston, from the American Action Network, one of the sponsors of the report:
“‘Just like a gender gap exists, a marriage gap also exists,’ Conston said. ‘While young unmarried women have always skewed liberal, the polling found married women across the country are far more likely to be conservative and are receptive to center-right policies.'”
No wonder why the GOP wants to see more “traditional” families. It’s a pretty reliable vote for them. The problem is the immediacy of elections doesn’t require finding the future Mrs. Right; it requires getting Ms. Right Now.
But the Republicans have never been as good at wooing as they are at old-fashioned courting, so for now, they’re just going to have to pace along the folding chairs by the wall, and wait for their next door neighbor’s mom to come over and ask them to dance. It is, sadly, the slow dance, but that’s more their speed, anyway.