With two wars raging and an economy in turmoil, President Obama took his case to the couch at ABC’s "The View".
When asked why he chose that particular arena, the president joked, “I was trying to find a show that Michelle actually watched.” But it’s not just the First Lady who's tuning in. According to Nielsen Media Research 79% of "The View"’s audience is female, a demographic that’s started to cool on the president.
Fox News/Opinion Dynamics polling shows Mr. Obama averaged a 59% approval rating among women in 2009, but seven months into 2010, that’s dipped 14 points to just 45%. That’s tough news for a party that is used to benefitting from the gender gap, a phenomenon political analyst Larry Sabato says surfaced in the 1980 presidential election. “It exists in almost all elections, ranging from five to eight percentage points,” according to Sabato.
That begs the question: Why are women more drawn to the Democratic party? Amanda Terkel, Managing Editor for Thinkprogress.org, says Democrats have simply done a better job working on the issues women care most about. “[Women] want equal pay, to make sure they can afford healthcare, that they won’t be penalized because of gender,” Terkel says. Worries about the economy may be eroding female voters’ trust that the Obama administration can get the job done, and now Republicans are hoping to capitalize.
Sabato says the timing couldn’t be better and that “Republicans have recruited lots of women.” In South Carolina, there’s gubernatorial nominee Nikki Haley. In California, Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman are in high profile races. Sabato says the GOP knows what’s at stake in going after female voters. “They’ve looked at demographic figures,” Sabato adds, “they understand that moving forward into the 21st century, the Republican party can’t be perceived as a white, male party.”
Shoring up the effort to reach women is the party’s most prominent female, Sarah Palin. The 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee and Fox contributor has blanketed the country endorsing candidates she calls Mama Grizzlies, and predicts they could make all the difference in the fall midterm elections. “This year will be remembered as the year when common sense conservative women get things done for our country,”Palin told supporters.
Not everyone’s convinced. Terkel says it’s about more than just having a female on the ticket, that if Republicans don’t connect with women on the issues – they can’t expect their votes. “I think for the immediate future, until Republicans offer real alternatives, women with stick with Democrats.”