Early Intel - Democrats, Obama Miss Mark By Treating Women as a Political Bloc
There is an old Republican joke about media bias that asks what the last headline of the New York Times will be. The answer "World ends: women, minorities hardest hit."
The joke has lost some of its pepper because it seems rather unlikely that the Times will still be publishing when the end does come. But the underlying idea of narrowcasting the effects of broad-based events is still very much alive inside the Democratic Party.
Today's effort at narrowcasting from the Obama White House is aimed at women.
The president is having another of his backyard campaign events, this time in Seattle, but this time the attendees will all be women (presumably male staffers and elected officials will still be allowed to gather ‘round).
Obama is in Seattle to stump for Sen. Patty Murray, who looks very shaky heading into Election Day. Murray has also made her campaign in large part an explicit appeal to women, suggesting that Republican Dino Rossi would restrict their access to abortions and contraception.
While Obama is showing the ladies some love in Washington state, his team in Washington D.C. is rolling out a blue ribbon report on "Jobs and Economic Security for America's Women."
All of this commotion is because Democrats are faring terribly with women voters. Though the group went heavily for Democrats in 2006 and 2008, women are now almost evenly divided in poll after poll. Democrats expect at least a modest win with women to make elections close and are deathly afraid of their poor performance among women this year.
The breakdown is as follows: young, single women overwhelmingly plan to vote Democrat, married women are about evenly split between the parties, and older women overwhelmingly vote Republican.
Does it benefit politicians to think of women in the same monolithic bloc that they have for the past 90 years?
Today's report from the White House highlights the fact that women have suffered more from the current recession because they represent a larger segment of the workforce and highlights Obama relief efforts like this: "The Recovery Act's Making Work Pay Tax Credit benefited 74 million middle-class women in 2009. The average woman received $600 more in her pocketbook."
But the average man got $600 in his pocketbook, too.
At a time when so many executives are women, and women are far more likely to obtain college degrees than men, the White House could have just as easily put out a report about how men were being hit disproportionately by the recession because of their lower skill levels and training.
It wouldn't occur to the White House to engage in that kind of pandering to male voters. Men either wouldn't listen or those who did might resent the implication that they needed special coddling.
The 2010 campaign has seen a pretty substantial remaking of American feminism. Conservative women are aggressively trying to bury the idea that supporting equality for women means voting Democrat or is litmus tested on the question of access to abortion on demand.
But there is another gender story line here too. Women increasingly see equality not as a goal to achieve but the fact of life. Wherever they work and however they roll, the days of "women's liberation" are over. Liberation is status quo. Men and women share their duties and opportunities in a way that was unimaginable two generations ago, but is taken for granted today.
So consider this, young, unmarried men lean Democratic, married men are split and older men are overwhelmingly Republican -- just like women are this year. Men are more Republican, yes, but the contours are similar over age and demographic lines.
Democrats may continue to do better with women in elections, but there's reason to think that equality may come to politics as well.
Certainly this year, when the overwhelming concerns are about the economy and the size of government, women and men are thinking the same way when it comes to the next two years. Major concerns tend to act as unifying political forces.
As the president tries to save to female senators in California and Washington this week, it may not behoove him to pretend that ladies have different concerns than gentlemen.
The "Soccer Mom" and "NASCAR Dad" labels of the past decade sound silly today when whatever you do and wherever you live, you are likely to share the same concerns.
Playing it straight and talking to men and women together about his plan to fix the economy without again expanding the government might profit him and his party much more.
Fight Night - Canned Lines in Pennsylvania
There was not much for Pennsylvanians in the Pennsylvania Senate debate between Republican Pat Toomey and Democrat Joe Sestak.
Moderator George Stephanopoulos was focused heavily on national issues (the second question of the night was about a tweet of support for Toomey by Sarah Palin), which allowed both candidates to mostly stick to their talking points.
Toomey, who, by the way, was "happy to have any support" when the ABC anchor pressed him on the Palin question, did his best to label Sestak as an extreme liberal while Sestak banged away in the other direction.
The discussion seemed to fit well into the line of questioning for Stephanopoulos and co-moderator Jim Gardener of the local ABC affiliate.
The debate got a little livelier when the conversation turned to Sestak's support for closing the Guantanmo Bay prison and trying its occupants in U.S. civilian courts.
It seemed as though Toomey knew he had a winner and Sestak was rather forcing his response. But there, Sestak's mentions of his naval service made sense. On the multiple other occasions when he raised his time as a salt, it didn't always make sense - like in response to a question about school vouchers. Sestak said that the Navy could make even the graduates of the worst schools into shipshape sailors.
But since the two were essentially only repeating their stump-speech attack lines face to face, there were few fireworks. Both men had already prepared answers to each barb. It was canned goods versus canned goods. No fresh vegetables.
Toomey seemed a bit stiff and had a bit of prosecutorial air - he had a bit of Michael Moriarty as the first prosecutor on "Law and Order." Sestak seemed a bit strange and at times his forced effort to be jovial made gave him an air of maniacal whimsy like Gomez Addams.
It was not a debate that will change the race. But, there is another match-up scheduled for Friday in Pittsburgh.
Depending on what new polls out today from Quinnipiac University and others say, either Sestak or Toomey may feel motivated to break out of their talking points and go looking for a game changing moment.
Thanks to Today's Power Play Crew: Kimberly Schwandt, April Girouard, L.A. Holmes, Gretchen Gailey, Jason Donner, Bree Tracey and Molly Mathews.
The Day in Quotes
"Because of you, 100,000 brave men and women are no longer in Iraq."
-- President Obama to a crowd of 8,500 in Portland, Ore. at a rally for Democratic candidates.
"Having one person with such extreme views is no big deal. But folks...they're all over the place."
-- Vice President Joe Biden attacking Tea Partiers while campaigning for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
"In Congress, I'm independent. I stand up to either party when it's wrong."
-- New ad from Rep. Lincoln Davis (D-TN) in which he shows images of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Obama with "X" marks over their faces.
"If we retain the majority, of course she is going to run for speaker. If she pulls this off, talk about turning water into wine."
-- A former aide to the House Democratic leadership talking to Roll Call about speculation by some Democratic members of Congress that Nancy Pelosi might not run again for speaker.
"I feel confident about where we are. I'd rather be where we are then the Republicans. We know we're right on the issues that we have passed in the Congress. We're proud of that."
-- Speaker Nancy Pelosi on "Charlie Rose."
"I think you're going to see an election where, you know, people win who perhaps you didn't expect to win, people lose who perhaps, you didn't expect to lose on both sides. So I mean, what I would suggest to you is you stay up for the full night and -- and total it up at the end."
-- Senior White House Adviser David Axelrod on CNN promising Democratic upsets.
"I was trying to save this seat and am still trying to save this seat for conservatives."
-- Colorado gubernatorial Candidate Tom Tancredo of the American Constitution Party on "America's Newsroom with Martha MacCallum and Bill Hemmer."
"The Republican Party is the only option we have this time. The Democrat party is to the left of Europe. And what we're trying to do in this election is reshape the Republican Party where it began, a limited government party, less taxes, less spending. And all of the candidates I'm backing are coming in with that pledge."-- Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) on "Hannity."
"I can't say specifically on John Boehner because I don't know what my other options are. There could be several people running."-- Kristi Noem, South Dakota Republican House candidate, to the Argus Herald Leader declining to commit her vote for speaker of the House.
"Nobody can say, ‘I started the Tea Party.' Nobody can say, ‘I saw the Tea Party coming, and I steered it.' Nobody who makes a living generating political support, generating political donations, nobody in that business can point to the Tea Party and say, ‘I did it.' So it's a threat."
"I do not believe that a debate with Alan Grayson will be anything more than gutter theatrics."
-- Florida Republican House candidate Daniel Webster announcing he would not debate Democratic incumbent Grayson, who has run ads equating Webster with the Taliban.
"I can't believe he's going to continue to ignore the wishes of the American people if his party has a very bad day Nov. 2. If he pivots and wants to work with us, obviously I'd be happy to talk to him."
-- Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell to the Associated Press discussing potential areas of compromise with President Obama.
"There's psychology here too. People see these numbers. It gives us momentum. They say, 'Hey, we think we might win this thing.' "
-- Ralph McMullen, chairman of the Washoe County (Nev.) Republican Party explaining to the Wall Street Journal the significance of the unusual parity of Republicans with Democrats in early voting this year.
"Even though my rent is not too damn high, if I'm fighting for the children who can't pay rent, who have no place to live, then my rent is too damn high."
-- Jimmy McMillian, the gubernatorial candidate of New York's Rent Is Too Damn High Party, explaining to the New York Times that he doesn't actually pay rent on his Brooklyn apartment, but instead provides handyman services to his landlord.
Trail Riders - Manchin Pulls a Coakley; Paul Debate Not Dead Yet; Races Do the Tighten Up; Krauthammer on Frenchness
Manchin to Leave Trail for D.C. Fundraiser
FOX News has obtained an invitation for a D.C. fundraiser for West Virginia Democratic Senate candidate Joe Manchin tonight.
The event, hosted by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), means big money at $1,000 to $5,000 a head for guests, but it also means Manchin will have to leave the campaign trail at the very moment that his race with Republican John Raese is boiling over.
Republicans compared the move to Martha Coakley's decision to come to a D.C. fundraiser in the week before her special Senate election in Massachusetts against Scott Brown. -- L.A. Holmes
Paul to Announce Debate Plans
Kentucky Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul will announce today whether he will participate in the final scheduled debate in Kentucky on Friday in light of Democrat Jack Conway's ad questioning Paul's Christianity.
Bubba Stumps - Clinton, Maryland
Former President Bill Clinton will start his day with a Miami rally for Florida gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink and finish up in Baltimore, where he'll appear on behalf of Gov. Martin O'Malley.
Tea Party Express Cruised to Victory
The Tea Party Express ran its successful primary campaign against Republican Lisa Murkowski for two months out of staterooms on a cruise liner that plied the Alaska coast.
The group reported to the Federal Elections Commission that it spent $103,000 with Holland America Line. The group told Politico that it was more convenient and cost effective than flying operatives to remote Alaska locations.Poll Check
Survey USA: California Senate - Boxer (D) 46, Fiorina (R) 44
Marist: Washington Senate -- Murray (D) 48, Rossi (R) 47Mason-Dixon: Kentucky Senate - Paul (R) 48, Conway (D) 43
Rasmussen: West Virginia Senate - Raese (R) 50, Manchin (D) 43
CNN/Time - Florida Senate -- Rubio (R) 46, Crist (I) 32, Meek (D) 20
CNN/Time: Alaska Senate - Miller (R) 37, Murkowski (I) 37, McAdams (D) 23 Survey USA: California Governor - Brown (D) 47, Whitman (R) 40
CNN/Time: Ohio Governor - Strickland (D) 48, Kasich (R) 47
Rasmussen: Florida Governor - Scott (R) 50, Sink (D) 44
Sestak Smacked on 9/11 Trials
The Republican Jewish Council is spending $1 million to assail Rep. Joe Sestak's support for trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a civilian trial.
The group plans to bombard Philadelphia airwaves in the bid to stop Sestak's Senate surge. The group favors a military tribunal for the confessed 9/11 plotter currently held at Guantanamo Bay.
Tea Scam in Pa?
Democrat Bryan Lenz is coming under fire after admitting that his campaign organization worked to get a Tea Party candidate on the ballot in hopes of siphoning votes away from Republican Pat Meehan.
Lenz told the Delaware County Times that his campaign staff circulated petitions on behalf of Tea Party candidate Jim Schneller.
"If somebody's already made the decision to run, I didn't think that helping with the process of signature petitions was improper," Lentz told the paper.
The close race is in the Philadelphia suburbs is to replace Democrat Rep. Joe Sestak, who is running for Senate.
And Now, A Word From Charles
"A government -- a country -- in which you have millions in the streets rioting, attacks on police, shutting of the refineries over the raising of the retirement age from 60 to 62 is a country you only describe as decadent.
After all the years of being infantilized it doesn't have the spirit to actually rise and say, "There are things that we have to do."
And that I think are the two effects that people living here see abroad. In the end, the social democratic state is unsustainable because the public sector being parasitic is too large and the private sector is unable to sustain it. And secondly, it changes the spirit of the people in a way in the end can be irreversible."
-- Charles Krauthammer on Special Report with Bret Baier discussing the recent unrest in France.
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as digital politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily "Fox News First" political news note and hosts "Power Play," a feature video series, on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on the network, including "The Kelly File," "Special Report with Bret Baier," and "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace." He also provides expert political analysis for Fox News coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.