“Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual – or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.” –Samuel Adams (1781)
“During Women’s History Month,” Obama proclaimed, “we … reaffirm our steadfast commitment to the rights, security and dignity of women. … We see the arc of the American story in the dynamic women who shaped our present and the groundbreaking girls who will steer our future. … With the leadership of the White House Council on Women and Girls, my administration is … making deep and lasting investments in the future of all Americans. I call upon all Americans to observe this month … with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that honor the history, accomplishments, and contributions of American women.”
Indeed, Obama should celebrate women and affirm his commitment to them – because, by a wide margin, they elected him in 2008. More than 56 percent of women voted for Obama versus only 49 percent of men, a seven-point differential, and women may well be the deciding demographic again in 2012 if we conservatives don’t get our message right. Check out this 2012 Obama campaign socialist appeal designed to lure female voters.
Democrats are masters of the “politics of disparity,” using classist, racist and gender issues to create division between Americans and thus conquer conservatives. Nowhere has that division been more successful than in racial demographics – almost 95 percent of black Americans blindly vote to uphold the Democrats’ plantation state. (The remaining five percent are probably the most courageous group of voters in America!) But by sheer numbers, women are the largest voting block and thus hold the greatest power to decide elections.
Amid all the questions about which GOP campaign themes will defeat Obama this year, one that conservatives had better start asking is, “What message will draw female voters back to the right side of the political ledger?” That question is critical both because in every presidential election since 1964 more women have voted than men, and because only 43 percent of them voted for McCain. With men voting in 2008 with almost even numbers for McCain and Obama, the women’s vote gave Obama – the most leftist and least qualified major-party candidate in presidential history – an easy electoral win.
By “get our message right,” I am not talking about topical pandering to women’s special interests, but about enlisting more women into the front lines of the eternal fight for Essential Liberty. While conservatives don’t underestimate the critical role of women to the future of Liberty, we do a very poor job of recruiting. Women might not have signed our Declaration of Independence or Constitution, but today they are the deciding force – the force that will vote to either sustain Liberty for future generations, or vote to overwhelm it with Democratic Socialism.
Here are some additional statistics from Rutgers’s Center for American Women and Politics, verified through other sources, that deserve GOP attention.
In 2004, the majority of women voted for John Kerry, though the number of men voting for George W. Bush was sufficient to defeat Kerry. In 2000, a wide majority of women voted for Albert Gore, who carried the popular vote. If not for a razor-thin margin of victory in Florida – one in which the Supreme Court stepped in to prevent Democrat party hacks from stealing the election via continual recounts – Bush would never have had a first term awarded by the Electoral College. (I would note that had Al Gore merely won his, and my, home state of Tennessee, the Florida count would have been irrelevant – but we in the Volunteer State knew Gore well enough to defeat him!)
In 1996, after Bill Clinton’s record of womanizing was in full bloom thanks to Gennifer Flowers and the whole list of what Clinton’s political adviser Betsey Wright coined “bimbo eruptions,” 54 percent of women still voted for Clinton while only 38 percent voted for his Republican opponent, Bob Dole.
In 1992, 45 percent of women voted for Clinton versus 37 percent for George H.W. Bush. (Ross Perot rounded up the remaining votes.) Of course, as I noted early in the run-up to the 2008 campaign, putting an old guy like McCain up against Obama was tantamount to putting up old guys like Dole and Bush against Clinton – with predictable results. Apparently the GOP did not learn the lesson.
Notably, however, 1988 was the last election where a majority of women voted for the Republican candidate – 50 percent for George H.W. Bush, who narrowly edged out Michael Dukakis’s 49 percent.
Of course, Ronald Reagan carried more women in both 1980 and 1984 than his younger Democrat opponents. President Reagan carried majorities of women and men because he centered his campaign message on Liberty and free enterprise rather than parsing it 10 different ways in a self-defeating attempt to round up special interest constituencies – as Republican poll players advise candidates today. I would suggest, in fact, that the only reason that the elder Bush won a slim majority of women voters was carryover good will from President Reagan’s tenure in office.
In 1988, Bush tried to win over the hearts of women by placating them with his “kinder, gentler” conservatism, which evoked this stern response from Nancy Reagan: “Kinder and gentler than who?” In the end, there is nothing kinder and gentler than Lady Liberty herself.
Once again in 2000, the younger Bush made “compassionate conservatism” a centerpiece of his campaign. Didn’t work then, either.
So, what is the GOP to do?
When it comes to communication between men and women, I think the title of John Gray’s bestseller, “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus,” is an apt metaphor. (Maybe in today’s parlance, Men are from Google, Women are from Pinterest.) Apparently that divide is more prevalent in Republicans than Democrats.
I would argue that the gender divide is really centered on voter perception about a candidate’s strength, and that the message, more than age and other factors, is the foundation of a candidate’s strength. Though President Reagan was, at age 69, the oldest man ever elected to the presidency, he was rightfully seen by both men and women to be much stronger than either Jimmy Carter or Walter Mondale, both of whom he trounced at the polls. That was not true of the elder Bush, Dole or McCain, whose mild and muddled platform messages led to the perception that they were weaker than their younger opponents.
What will draw more female voters to a conservative candidate?
For the answer, I went to our resident experts – 10 of our female editors and National Advisory Committee members. (I should qualify their responses by noting that these women each have strong feminine sides, but are as tough and resilient as most any man – and two of them are not to be tangled with under any circumstances.) They concurred that a winning campaign is one centered on Liberty and free enterprise, which articulates how those themes serve the best interests of men, women and families.
However, the messenger needs additional qualities and our editors outlined a few of those as follows:
“Women are moved more by the likability and trustworthiness of a candidate than claims of what government will do for them.”
“Women are more likely to be the caregiver in a family impacted by a disadvantaged child, senior home-bound adult, dealing more with education needs and activities, health care consumer decisions, etc., and thus finely tuned to those issues.”
“We are professionals, educated and well informed, who are looking more for the character of who we would marry versus date, and prefer men with spine.”
“We care deeply about the poor and economically distressed, so tell us how the conservative model will do more to alleviate that than the liberal model. We influence our husbands and families more than Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly and often drive the family philanthropic decisions based on our passion for what is good and right. We are competent in boardrooms and often share the kitchen with our spouse.”
“We have life stories that include times of disappointment, despair, disillusionment and missed opportunities. We have triumphed, learned, loved and led. Make sure the conservative mandates are presented in such a way that we are inspired to use our life experience to achieve those mandates.”
“Craft messages and policy statements with language that appeals to our sense of fairness, justice and mercy, and you will win our passion, persuasion and political power! Speak from the heart to the heart – and tell your political handlers to take a hike. We are looking for truth, purpose and authenticity.”
“Liberty and freedom are to be cherished – say that with conviction at every whistle stop. We will fight for the future of our children and their children because many of us rise every morning with that objective. We can project a message to everyone around us while being charming, confident and kind.”
“Inspiration is what we seek – the kind of inspiration that has substance, honesty and resilience. Faith, Hope and Love are not cliché to us, but words that speak to our life and shape the legacy we want to and will leave the next generation, Lord willing.”
“Liberals know that many women can be lured into their camps by appealing to our emotions, and are masters at convincing us to sympathize with their agenda – persuading us to vote for a host of entitlements that leave many of us feeling good about that vote, rather than understanding that supporting statism perpetuates human misery. Republicans need to short-circuit the liberal message by appealing to the same emotional conviction and convincing us that Leftist doctrines are the source of misery, not the solution for it.”
“Many mothers I know don’t take the time to delve into the issues because they are busy raising families, in some cases juggling a career as well, so they are naturally more influenced by emotive sound bites, a liberal specialty, rather than lengthy cerebral debates. At the end of the day, the MSM is very biased. So the sound-bite consumers (women, in this case) vote without a full understanding of the issues. The Leftmedia definitely sensationalizes and spins to appeal to an emotional level in men and women, rather than a factual one.”
“I graduated from college in the early ‘90s, and since then worked at two 'women’s rights’ organizations. It took me longer to recover from the Leftist university indoctrination than to become disillusioned with the liberal feminist movement. With that as a backdrop, the Democrats have done an excellent job of convincing women, not only that they have their best interests at heart, but what those interests are. The feminist movement is a major driving force in the Democrat Party. There is no real counterforce in the Republican Party, and that is a significant problem. Republican candidates need to take control of the debate, especially on feminist issues.”
“Husbands and fathers, those of you who have not already fallen victim to feminization, act like men – but love and affirm your wives and daughters so they will be drawn to strength, not reject it.”
So, there you have insightful wisdom from conservative women, most of whom are keen observers of their female friends and colleagues of all political stripes.
The bottom line is that the GOP candidate who can clearly articulate why Liberty and free enterprise are winning goals for women and families, and who is perceived to be strong, to be of good character, trustworthy and devoted to his spouse and family, will very likely attract enough female voters to defeat Obama socialist propaganda.
“Above all we must realize that no weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women.” –Ronald Reagan