Thursday, October 28, 2004
Women and the GOP
Traditionally, women have supported Democratic presidential candidates over the GOP, usually by wide margins; Gore topped Bush among women by eleven points in 2000. That gap usually gets explained by Republican policy stands on reproductive rights, especially abortion. However, in this election, Bush has essentially tied Kerry among women (some polls put Bush in a narrow lead).
Speculation about the cause of the shift usually centers on "security moms" -- those who consider national security a more pressing issue than abortion. However, that doesn't apply to a specific question about appointing Supreme Court justices, while abortion rights impact directly on it. Seeing no change among women supporting Bush tends to imply that abortion no longer carries the same strong backing it previously has with women. In fact, the gap between Bush and Kerry on this question is actually narrower than it is on general support overall for election. Having almost half of all women trust such an explicit right-to-life candidate more with judicial nominations is a paradigm shift of stunning scope.
Kerry has assured voters that he will not nominate any justice who does not support abortion rights, an explicit litmus test that was designed to bolster his sagging numbers with women. However, if the Post poll is any indicator, Kerry may be doing more damage than good among female voters with his pandering position on abortion.
In fact, at least some of us female voters are voting for Bush at least in part because we trust him on this issue.