The GOP’s War on Women may have been ill-advised this campaign season - women voters are on the rise.
As it turns out, the Obama administration’s push to reach out to women voters isn’t just capitalizing on a serious GOP flaw. Rather, it’s a calculated strategy to tap in to one of the fastest growing groups of annual new voters: single women.
Slate recently posited that these single women – who tend to vote far more Democrat than married women – may be to the Democrats what the Evangelical voters are to the Republicans. That is, a group of loyal voters that can be easily energized and mobilized during difficult elections. But single women as a voting bloc are very different than Evangelicals, and pose a unique set of challenges to political parties looking to cash in.
Single Women: Not your average voting bloc
The first unique hurdle posed by the single woman voter bloc is the crucial issue of contact: how does a party gain access to these women? Unlike Evangelical voters, whose church leaders often work with candidates to provide contact information of targeted voters, there is no national registry of women.
Furthermore, even within the so-called “single woman bloc”, there exists no monolith. Single women voters can be roughly divided into two groups. There are the younger, college-educated singles living in an urban setting, who tend to be career-minded and politically progressive. Then there are women who aspire to more traditional roles and do not self-identify as feminists or progressives, but have remained unmarried and support themselves as the head of their household. Harvard sociologist Kathy Edin refers to this status as “ambiguously independent” – these aren’t the feminist bloggers that are unambiguously huge sluts as defined by Rush Limbaugh, but rather more moderate women living day to day without feeling passionately about women’s independence as a statement per se.
Actions speak louder than campaign ads
The answer may shock and disgust you…but probably only if you’re a politician. If politicians on either side of the aisle have any hope of tapping into this wealth of votes, they will have to do so more with their actions than with more targeted campaigns. For instance, the second group of single women, those “ambiguously independent” women with more conservative leanings? They’re being swayed to vote Democrat because they simply can’t afford Republican attacks on birth control. And moderate women who may lean Democrat but haven’t found sufficient motivation to vote have certainly found it now, especially in key battleground states.
The irony of this turn of events – if you can call either a two year long Puritanical war on women or a steadily increasing voter bloc a turn of events – is that the effects are being seen in the first presidential election year since the Citizens United decision. As it turns out, money can’t buy you a complete lack of accountability for your actions. But it would be surprising if the GOP candidates took this lesson to heart, rather to continuing to ignore women voters and attempting to placate them with token female politicians.