August 8 2012

Washington Post: No Fluke: Obama needs Colorado's women voters

Washington Post ‘She the People’

 

BOULDER, Colo. - It's certainly no fluke that President Obama is being introduced by Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke when he makes a campaign stop in Denver on Wednesday. 

Women voters could make all the difference in this swing state on Nov. 6. And both Obama and Mitt Romney will be working between now and then to woo this demographic.

Here are some key facts to consider about Colorado women heading into the elecion.

Women make up almost 53 percent of the state's active voters as of the end of July. 

In 2008, Obama won 56 percentof the women's vote in Colorado and in the nation.

In 2010, women voters propelled Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet to a narrow victory over Republican challenger Ken Buck. In his primary, Buck took at shotat his female opponent for wearing "high heels." On national television, Buck defended his refusal to prosecute an acquaintance rape case, in which he'd told a newspaper that at jury might view the incident as "buyer's remorse." 

Obama has support from 51 percent of women voters surveyed in Colorado compared with 43 who favor Romney, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday. The poll, conducted for CBS and the New York Times, indicated that Romney leads in Colorado with 50 percent to Obama's 45 percent. Quinnipiac surveyed 1,463 likely Colorado voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 points.

Fluke's presence in Denver places an emphasis on Obama's support for insurance coverage for contraception and, to a lesser extent, his support for abortion rights. Rush Limbaugh thrust Fluke into the spotlight earlier this year calling her a "slut" and a "prostitute" for testifying before Congress in favor of insurance coverage for women's contraception.

Conservative interest group Colorado's Future Project slammed Fluke's presence at Obama's Denver event, calling it insulting to women and calling Fluke "a sideshow and distraction."

But the Obama camp is likely to continue its emphasis on reproductive issues. An Obama ad running in Colorado features women calling Romney "extreme," a tag Democrats placed on Buck in 2010. And it notes that Romney would try to get rid of Planned Parenthood, one of the country's largest providers of women's health care services, including contraception, low-cost exams and abortions. 

Another factor that could play into the presidential race is the so-called "personhood" initiative that would ban abortion. The initiative is likely to make the ballot for a third election, having been defeated by almost 71 percent of voters in 2010 and 73 percent in 2008. Planned Parenthood and other abortion-rights proponents are gearing up to fight the amendment again, and both sides will be trying to get women to the polls to support them.

But as University of Denver political scientist Seth Masket pointed out at a weekend seminar on elections, the economy is the overriding factor for most voters. And Wednesday's Quinnipiac poll indicates Colorado voters aren't so jazzed about their economic situation and the president's handling of it.

Earlier this year, a pollster told me that women are more open to new information about candidates and campaigns and more likely to change their minds based on that information.

Both Obama and Romney will be working to change the minds of Colorado's women during the next three months.

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