This is a partial transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume," Sept. 28, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
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BRIT HUME, HOST: The new "Washington Post"/ABC News poll of registered voters finds that President Bush (search) now leads John Kerry (search) among women by a 49 to 46 percent, roughly the same spread as the latest Fox poll. Four years ago, Al Gore carried the female vote by 11 points. And a Democrat has carried the women's vote in the last four presidential elections. So what's going on here?
For answers, we turn to Carol Taber of the group Family Security Matters (search), who says this year's crucial target voter really is the so-called "security mom."
Ms. Taber joins us from New York.
What is a security mom?
CAROL TABER, FAMILY SECURITY MATTERS: A security mom can be defined both demographically and psychographically. Demographically, she's a woman with children in the household. That is school-aged children. But the ages of the children can run the gamut from a very young child to even preschooler, through to a senior in high school. So, what they have in common is this: children in school. And in fact, the ages of security moms can vary, just as much as the ages of their children. Psycho graphically, these are women who when they go to the polls...
HUME: What does psychographically mean?
TABER: What's in their heads?
TABER: When they go to the polls, they have the no. 1 concern: the safety and security of their children. And they're going to be voting on this issue.
HUME: What's the rough size of this group? How many security moms are there?
TABER: We don't know how many there are because we won't probably know until the votes have been cast. But I'll tell you, we can guess in the sense that, as you just mentioned, in the last presidential election, Al Gore carried women by 11 points. And today, there was a Washington Post poll, which you probably saw, where President Bush is leading women now by three points.
HUME: Yes, we mentioned that. Yes.
TABER: Yes. So that's sort of a 14-point swing, which means it translates to millions of women who voted last year on Democratic issues. And this year, are not. So that's a big loss for the Democrats.
HUME: Right. Now, you've done some focus groups to determine...
HUME: How did you pick these people. And what did you find?
TABER: Well, we were very careful on the screening. We didn't want to have any partisans in the group. So we screened out sort of hardcore Republicans and hardcore Democrats. And we included women who were undecided, women who were leaning slightly Democrat and slightly Republican. And that was it.
HUME: And what did you find?
TABER: We accounted for equal numbers of each one of those groups. What we found is very interesting and it favors President Bush. As I said before, the no. 1 concern for these women is the safety and security of their families. Now, President Bush scores very well here because they really do see him as a strong and resolute leader. But they don't see the same thing in John Kerry.
In fact, I'll give you some verbatim vote quotes that we heard from the focus group to give an idea of what I'm talking about. Some women said about Mr. Kerry, "I don't trust him."
Some said, "I don't know what it is about him. I just don't like him."
Some women said he looks sneaky. We actually heard that a couple of times. Some women said he's too rich to be president.
HUME: What kind of margins did you find by which Mr. Bush seemed to be favored and Mr. Kerry not? I mean was this an overwhelming sentiment? Or was it...
TABER: It was probably 70-30.
TABER: Yes. Yes. And they saw President Bush, as I say, very strong, very consistent, and a defender of America and American families. So that's a very difficult poll for Mr. Kerry to get out of.
HUME: Right. We also see though in the current polling, and of course, I assume that's men and women alike, that people are troubled by what they see happening in Iraq. They don't think it's going well in Iraq. And yet, you know, the same people seem to favor the president on that issue anyway. Did you find that sentiment as well among these women you've talked to?
TABER: Well, what we found in our focus groups is that these security moms wanted us to win in Iraq. They hated seeing people being killed. But they wanted to see it through to victory. Now again, this is a win for President Bush because that's his position.
HUME: But why did they say that? Did they equate that to security at home in some way?
TABER: Yes, they do.
HUME: And how did they explain that?
TABER: They see that if we win in Iraq, it's part of the battle of the overall War on Terror. And they don't see Senator Kerry carrying through on that kind of thing for them. He's had a lot of positions, as you know. In fact, to give you an example, I had a conversation with a security mom the other day. We were both talking about how Ronald Reagan was called "The Great Communicator" and she actually said, "Well, John Kerry should be called 'The Great Equivocator.'"
And that's the problem for him. He is perceived that way.
HUME: Well, it does show up in the polling that way as well. There's a question I wanted to ask you and that's this: You don't hear the campaigns mentioned. The Kerry camp for obvious reasons wouldn't say it. The Bush camp probably is afraid to say it, because something could happen the next day. But it is the reality that there's been no major attack on the U.S. mainland since Sept. 11. Does that come up in these discussions? That he sort of kept us safe so far? Is that a factor here?
TABER: Yes. It did not come up in the sense that we measured it. But women did talk about it. And they were happy that it happened. And they have a perception. One of the focus groups we did was in Ohio. And it was right after there was an announcement that a plot to blow up a mall in Ohio had been foiled. I don't know if you remember that.
HUME: I do remember, yes.
TABER: Yes. And they were very grateful for that. Though, their perception was that good work was being done.
HUME: Will it be difficult in the debates, or possible in the debates, for Senator Kerry to change minds here?
TABER: Honestly, I think it's going to be extremely difficult for him. His problems are persona...
HUME: Got you.
TABER: ... party and policy.
HUME: I got you.
TABER: Very tough to overcome.
HUME: Carol Taber, thank you very much.
TABER: Thank you.
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