October 22 2012
President Obama's Soccer Mom Problem
The Obama campaign seems to be redoubling its efforts to convince women that Mitt Romney will take away their contraception and put us all in binders in the last desperate stretch of the presidential race.
Sign it may not be working: Sandra Fluke goes to Reno to speak on behalf of the president and only twelve people show up.
If Mitt Romney wins, it will be largely because enough women saw through the Obama campaign’s “War on Women” strategy. The Atlantic has a fascinating article about women voters in Chantilly, Virginia. It is entitled “The Revenge of the Soccer Moms.”
The Atlantic’s Molly Ball was curious about why the loyalty of women, who helped put President Obama in the White House in 2008, is so fluid. Chantilly is a wealthy town (media income $100,000) and what Ball found there may not be the same as what is going on in the all-important state of Ohio.
But here are some choice quotes:
"This is going to sound totally selfish, but I think people should not be penalized for being monetarily successful," said Eileen B., a blonde 51-year-old with reading glasses perched on her head and a sweater draped over her shoulders. "We are in the top tax bracket, and we pick up the slack for the rest of the people."
Her friend Zebib A., a 46-year-old Ethiopian immigrant, nodded approvingly. The two were sitting on a fleece blanket emblazoned with the logo of the private Christian school their sons attend, watching the boys practice soccer in blue-and-yellow uniforms on a field at Poplar Tree Park. "People don't realize how very generous and charitable we are," Eileen continued, referring to those in her income bracket. "If I write one more check for a mission trip, I think I'm going to scream!"
After four years of an administration hostile to small business success, Eileen B. feels she must apologize for her belief that the successful don’t deserve to be penalized!
Ball did encounter several women who will vote for Obama because they support abortion, an indication that the president’s strongest pitch for some women is indeed the call to “Vote your lady parts.”
Meanwhile, Angela Bonilla, who voted for President Obama last time, is wavering:
After the first presidential debate, Bonilla warmed to Romney, but she heard some things in the second debate that sent her back the other way. She didn't like it when Romney talked about drilling for oil off the Virginia coast, for instance. In addition to her husband and two children, Bonilla's 79-year-old mother lives with her and relies on Medicare, and she worries about supporting her if the program is "voucherized."
This is an indication that the Romney campaign hasn’t explained well enough that nobody currently on Medicare will be affected by his proposals. The Obama campaign has made the word “voucher” sound scary. Bonilla is also a supporter of abortion.
This was a common refrain among the women I interviewed, a perspective that had them feeling pulled in different directions. The economy had soured their view of Obama, and while they agreed with him on women's rights, they didn't like to see themselves as single-issue voters.
Romney's "binders full of women" line, an awkward phrasing that inspired reams of mockery on the Internet, wasn't changing any minds among the women I spoke to. Democratic partisans saw it as more evidence Romney was out of touch; Republican partisans saw it as of a piece with his business background. "Anyone who's ever been a professional, ever, knows that's how you get resumes: in a binder,"43-year-old Republican stay-at-home mother Michele Moss said, rolling her eyes. Only someone who'd never been in the business world -- like Obama -- would fail to understand that.
The "binders" line didn't register at all among the undecided women. …
It is inconceivable that President Obama won’t get a solid majority of unmarried women, who often believe that “free” government programs will be there to help them. But if he fails to get as large a margin as he did last time among women in general, he will likely be a one term president.