Published April 06, 2012
For Obama, It’s All About the Single Ladies
President Obama “believes Augusta should admit women. You know, we're kind of long past the time when women should be excluded from anything.”
-- White House Press Secretary Jay Carney briefing reporters on the president’s position on the all-male Augusta National Golf Club, which this weekend is hosting America’s most prestigious golf tournament, The Masters.
The White House today will echo the president’s campaign theme of an outreach to female voters, teaming with MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski to hold a forum on the economic concerns of women.
This is all part of a Democratic effort to maintain the president’s advantage with women voters from 2008.
Aside from accusing Republicans of a “war on women” because onetime GOP frontrunner Rick Santorum voiced skepticism about the use of birth control, most Republicans oppose an Obama rule forcing Catholic institutions to offer employees coverage for contraception and abortifacients.
But give the puny condition of the economy, as highlighted by today’s unhappy jobs report, the president is eager to expand his gender-targeted election pitch beyond being a booster for The Pill.
But for Obama, it’s more complicated than just reaching out to women. He has some particular women in mind: the unmarried kind.
Obama outperformed the two previous Democratic nominees with women voters by about 5 points, reflective of his better performance overall.
But among single women, Obama more than doubled the advantages of Al Gore and John Kerry. Obama narrowly won with married moms and lost among married women without kids, but ran up historic margins among unmarried women.
The most dangerous demographic trend for Republicans isn’t the approaching “minority majority” or the slowing of the growth of America’s exurbs. It’s the decline of marriage rates.
Whether they are Hispanic or Anglo, or whether they live in urban centers or on the suburban frontiers, married voters are more likely to be Republican than non-married voters.
In 2004, George W. Bush won among married voters by 15 points, while Kerry took unmarried voters by 18 points. Four years later, John McCain won married voters by 5 points while Obama swept singles by a jaw-dropping 32 points.
The alarming issue for Republicans is that the percent of married adults has been on a dramatic decline.
In 1960, Pew found that 71 percent of adults were married. Last year, it was 51 percent. More ominous for the GOP is the trend for the future: 52 years ago, 60 percent of Americans ages 18 to 29 were married. Today, it’s less than 20 percent.
Married Americans vote at a far higher rate than unmarried voters, not surprising given that younger Americans vote less than their older counterparts. But the declining pool of married voters and huge Democratic majorities among single voters mean that the 2-to-1 ratio of married to unmarried voters will soon not be enough to keep the GOP in the game.
The reasons for the decline in marriage rates are many. Young adults face fewer pressures, social and economic, to marry. While most Americans are religious, there are a growing number of non-believers. And even among the religious, most of the stigma is gone from premarital sex and cohabitation.
And while educated, well-off Americans generally migrate into marriage and suburbia as they start having children, child-bearing rates are down and the average age for first child birth is up. For college-educated Americans, marriage is still the norm, but it increasingly comes after a decade of playing the field.
For poorer Americans, marriage is dying out faster. Some 40 percent of children are now born to unwed mothers, and only 15 percent of single mothers have college degrees. Among white children, 74 percent live with two parents, compared to 39 percent for black children.
Married, church-going, high-earning voters are the most likely to be Republicans, and the trends for all of those qualities are on the decline. Unmarried, non-believing, poor voters are most likely to be Democrats, and those qualities are all on the rise.
The Day in Quotes
“Obama didn’t specify whether Iran would be allowed to enrich uranium domestically as part of the civilian program the United States would endorse. That delicate issue evidently would be left for the negotiations that are supposed to start April 13, at a venue yet to be decided.”
-- Washington Post national security columnist David Ignatius on what he says is a pending offer from President Obama to accept an Iranian nuclear promise if leaders their abide by their public statements of not wishing to pursue atomic weapons.
-- The amount of loan subsidies for green energy firms announced Thursday by the Energy Department for a successor program to a troubled initiative that backed many failed or failing firms, including Solyndra.
“While duly recognizing the courts' authority to engage in judicial review, the Executive Branch has often urged courts to respect the legislative judgments of Congress.”
-- Response from Attorney General Eric Holder to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Texas for a clarification of President Obama’s claim that it would be “unprecedented” and “extraordinary” for “an unelected group of people” to overturn a law passed by Congress.
“So what's Romney hiding? Tweet @MittRomney to demand he release his tax returns. #WhatsRomneyHiding”
-- Tweet from President Obama.
“So respectfully, I would suggest the president back off. Back off. Let the court do its work. Let our system work the way it was intended to work. The stability of our system and our laws and our very government depends on it. And the duties of the presidency demand it.”
-- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in a speech to the Lexington (Ky.) Rotary Club.
And Now, A Word From Charles
“For [Mitt] Romney to answer, and for Ann Romney to answer by saying women care about the jobs and the economy is a way to concede the issue – as if to say, on contraception they don't want to talk about that because the Democrats are right and somehow ours is a reactionary view.
They ought to take it on headfirst, address it, address the misconception and make a case, not to say we're going to talk about something else. That's absurd and that's weakness.”