It’s the economy, stupid!


Romney narrows gender gap

By Jonathan Easley – 06/07/12 05:00 AM ET

Mitt Romney has significantly narrowed the gender gap with President Obama despite massive Democratic attacks on the GOP over a variety of issues.

As recently as April, Obama led Romney by 18 percent among women voters in a USA Today/Gallup poll of 12 swing states. The huge advantage with women gave Obama an overall edge of 9 percent.

Recent polls show Romney has sliced into that lead.

In the same USA Today/Gallup poll from early May, the president’s lead among women was cut to 12 percent, reducing Obama’s overall swing state lead to 2. A CNN-ORC poll released this month showed Obama’s lead among women nationally was down to 3 percent, 49 percent to 46, and equal to the president’s overall lead in that poll.

A majority of women have voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in every election going back to 1980. But with the candidates in a dead heat nationally, and neck and neck among male voters, President Obama can’t afford for the gap among women voters to narrow much more.

Much more at the link.

Your Editor has said it before, many times: the only polls that actually mean anything are the ones held on election day, and the election is still five months away. But the results of this poll, if they are accurate and consistent, show that women are just as concerned as men with the primary issue, really the only issue that counts, the economy and President Obama’s (mis)handling of it. There are a lot of issues in which American women are somewhat more politically liberal than men, but those issues all become secondary to the family’s economic survival.

Governor Romney made the point that women have suffered the majority of job losses in the economic downturn since President Obama took office, a claim that the Obama Administration tried to refute, but was one that was true; the Administration claims that men have lost more jobs since the recession began — which is accurate — but women have lost the majority of jobs since the President took office. It’s an interesting economic debate, but in one way, it’s meaningless: arguing who lost jobs, and when, is somewhat less important than the fact that today, right now, the economy under the Obama Administration is not recovering those jobs to any significant extent.

An anecdote, which illustrates the problem for the President: your Editor’s wife is a registered nurse, and RNs have, for many years, been somewhat transient. They could be, because RNs could always get good jobs, and there was a real shortage of nurses; many hospitals were offering substantial sighing bonuses for registered nurses.

With the start of the recession, that changed. It wasn’t that there was a dramatic loss of nursing positions; accidents and illnesses don’t seem to care much about economic conditions. Certain medical specialties, the ones which involved elective procedures, saw a decline, but the necessities did not. However, available nursing positions really tightened up, and the reason was simple: job resignations among nurses declined, because so many of them decided that they could not afford to quit because their husbands had lost their jobs, or they believed that their husbands might lose their jobs. New nursing grads, who used to get jobs right after they were graduated, even before they passed their boards,1 were having to wait months to get hospital jobs,2 and many had to work as nursing assistants until an RN slot opened.

Nursing is a profession heavily dominated by women, and what happened to nurses demonstrates the problem: when men lose their jobs, it affects women. Even in families where the wife was an RN, but her husband made enough money that she did not have to work professionally, the recession and its impact on the jobs of men still nudged the wife to work, just in case. In good times, where most people don’t have to worry about their jobs, some of the issues on which women are generally more liberal than men can come to the forefront, and these issues would help the President in his re-election campaign. But these are not good times, and though we are technically in a growth period, it is a very slow growth period and unemployment remains high; the issues on which President Obama specifically, and the Democrats in general, have an advantage among women simply do not take precedence over the economy.

Your Editor has said it many times: if the economy was in good shape, or even if it was just visibly, noticeably3 recovering, the President’s re-election would not be in doubt. But the economy is not in good shape, and as the recent increase in unemployment indicates, is not getting noticeably better. If Governor Romney is closing the Republican disadvantage among female voters, it is because they, like males, recognize that the economy is the most important issue out there, and they are more and more dissatisfied with the President’s performance in that area.

  1. Hospitals had to place restrictions on their work, primarily involving direct supervision by an RN, until they passed their licensing examinations.
  2. It was easier to get jobs working in nursing homes, but even those tightened up.
  3. Noticeably, as used by your Editor, means something that the general public can perceive, something that “feels” real and believable to them; it is not used in reference to statistical improvements alone.

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