Could Republicans “lose” women in 2012?

A top Rick Santorum donor argues that women who want cheap contraception should pinch an aspirin between their knees.

The country’s most prominent conservative voice, Rush Limbaugh, argues that women who want their contraception covered by health insurance should offer payback to men.

“If we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something,” Limbaugh said, on his syndicated radio show.  “We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”

While those salvos are being fired in the media-sphere, Republican leaders in Congress are pushing a bill that would allow bosses across the country to decide whether or not to cover contraception and other types of healthcare that clash with their moral beliefs.

According to the widely respected Guttmacher Institute, research indicates that roughly 90% of sexually active, fertile women use contraception.

So while contraception isn’t a top-tier issue for most Americans, this is an issue that cuts broadly.  It’s also apeculiar fight for the GOP to pick in an already fragile election year.

Women make up 53% of all voters.  In 2008, Mr. Obama won 56% of the women’s vote — that’s a whopping 7% better than his level support among male voters.

Democrats are clearly convinced that they can boost their gender advantage, leveraging recent controversies over Planned Parenthood, contraception, and prenatal testing.

And there are signs that they could find a real opening here.

A recent 2012 poll shows women registered to vote favoring the Democratic Party by a 47-40% margin — and among working women the gap was even bigger, a whopping 50-37% split.

If these controversies tilt women more toward Democrats, it would reshape this year’s elections.  It’s one thing to win strong African American or Hispanic support.  Those are still minorities.  But in voting terms, women are the majority.

So what do you think?  I’m particularly interested to hear from Republicans.  Is this a good issue to be pushing in a campaign year?

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156 Comments on “Could Republicans “lose” women in 2012?”

  1. JDM says:

    “Is this a good issue to be pushing in a campaign year?”

    No. It’s a smoke screen to cover Obama’s economic failures.

    In 2008, did you think it was necessary to investigate Obama’s vote on infanticide? No.

    In 2008, was it necessary to look into Obama’s comment on “not punishing his daughters with pregnancy”. No.

    But, you love to look into these things when it comes upon a GOP candidate.

    Media bias on display.

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  2. myown says:

    JDM,
    Hello, it is Republicans who are making this an issue and presenting themselves as total idiots (see Santorum and Limbough). The Republican party seems to be representing only angry old white men who resent losing their dominence over women and everyone else.

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  3. lauren says:

    The Republicans continue to grasp at anything that might give them some credibility or at least some traction in this campaign.
    This election will be a walk through for President Obama.
    “Those gd northern liberals, that I never could stand”

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  4. Paul says:

    It is a terrible decision to push this issue. The talk show guy can say whatever he likes. I am surprised that so many (what seem like) reasonable people take notice of what he says. But I am sure he is happy that you all are helping boost his ratings. Santorum will hopefully soon be gone.

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  5. PNElba says:

    The “talk show guy” insulted every woman who uses contraception by calling them sluts. All reasonable people should denounce this kind of talk.

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  6. Snowflake says:

    I’m a Republican and a woman and I can tell you that I am embarrassed to be a Republican and I will be voting for Obama this time around and I am seriously considering changing my party.

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  7. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Isn’t that guy the drug addict? People still listen to him?

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  8. Mervel says:

    Santorum is a good guy and a bad candidate.

    These social issues are losers, particularly in our culture.

    But this will all change if Romney is the candidate.

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  9. Two Cents says:

    Re: Republicans-

    There is no need to slay the wicked, leave them to their own devices…..

    At this rate they won’t have anyone to run against Obama.
    They will have their best chance painting and running an actual red, white, and blue, elephant.

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  10. Mervel says:

    No Romney would have a good shot at beating the President. Boring yes, but I think a good shot. Not as good of a shot as a candidate in this environment should have, but he is an organized candidate and even with his denials he is a moderate one who has a record of achievement in government.

    But, if unemployment gets down there close to 7% by this summer, I think Obama has got it.

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  11. Terence says:

    Ugh — this image in my mind of Limbaugh, and that sneer as he talks. Had almost forgotten about him. People still tuning in to him, then? I’m sure his comments were meant to be ‘amusing’ — but still. What a hateful man.

    I can’t figure out what the Republicans are doing any more: it’s as though they wanted to lose the election and confine themselves to their own noisy fringe.

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  12. Gary says:

    These social issues are hurting the GOP. I agree with JDM’s opening statement. The media asks these questions and edit speaches to focus on these issues. This in turns shifts the public’s attention away from the failures of Obama. Rush is an entertainer, no more no less. I’ve said it before in these blogs, I just hope the media plays fair! Not happening!

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  13. JDM says:

    George Stephanopoulos telegraphed what was to come when he first brought the issue of contraception to light out-of-the-blue with Romney at one of the debates.

    Everyone thought – what’s wrong with Stephanopoulos? Turns out, he knew exactly what he was doing.

    It’s a big diversion tactic of the media. Unfortunately, some in the GOP have taken the bait.

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  14. JDM says:

    And the media further shifted the debate away from abortion and abortive-type contraception (a losing argument for the Dems) to just plain contraception.

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  15. brian mann says:

    JDM -

    I just don’t think this washes. Republicans introduced a really remarkable piece of legislation this week, dealing with contraception.

    This is something that the top slate of presidential contenders have been talking, writing and acting upon (in their role as politicians and church leaders) for a very long time.

    You can’t be the party of social conservatism, arguing for legislated changes to moral behaviors that have been widely used for decades (contraception, vasectomies, etc.) and not expect to have those positions scrutinized.

    You can’t have your movement’s most prominent political spokesman, Rush Limbaugh, ca;ling women who take the pill “sluts” and expect for that not to draw coverage.

    Even if you do accept the proposition that raising contraception in his healthcare bill was a political move on Obama’s part, there was no need for top Republicans to take the bait. Right?

    But they have gone down that road.

    And they have done so, in part, because contraception is really something that many senior Republican leaders do actively disapprove of, despite the fact that 90% of women use it.

    Which is fair. The GOP leadership can advocate for any position they want and news organizations should treat their points of view respectfully. BUt it’s not fair to suggest that such positions aren’t newsworthy.

    –Brian, NCPR

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  16. lauren says:

    You should hear the word of life channel on this issue. Whew! “Compelling women to take potentially murderous medications”

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  17. Gary says:

    Brian: “You can’t have your movement’s most prominent political spokesman, Rush Limbaugh”, says who? The media! Does this make the Dems prominent spokesman, Chris Matthews?

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  18. brian mann says:

    Gary –

    Please. Comparing Chris Matthews to the influence and political heft of Rush Limbaugh is simply not on. There is no one in the liberal media to compare to him — no one. Limbaugh has been a definitive figure over the last twenty years, predating Fox News, far more profound an influence than Buckley or Will or any other conservative pundit.

    –Brian, NCPR

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  19. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Lauren makes an excellent observation that isn’t brought up very often — there is a national network of far right wing Christian radio stations that are constantly pushing a variety of issues, some of them innocuous such as monetary advice or call in programs offering advice on family and relationship issues, but many programs are specifically political, pushing an extreme conservative social agenda.

    What ever happened to the fairness doctrine?

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  20. Peter Hahn says:

    I have been of the opinion (evidently wrong) that the Republicans were trying to manufacture a religious wedge issue out of this that they could hang on the Affordable Health Care Act. A twofer.

    But it does seem now to be more about sex and female sexuality. At least thats what Rush is using to drive up his ratings. Sounds like the conservative Christian Radio stations are doing the same.

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  21. Gary says:

    A few years ago I read a very interesting article on the political affiliation
    of TV news stations. Not sure how the info was obtained but went something like this. Over 90% of station managers, program managers and news anchors were Democrats. This high per cent was attributed to their college education and the liberal teachings they were exposed to. Remember the media decides what is and isn’t the news. They also decided how it will be presented. You might be correct on Rush but I still view him as an entertainer. I often wonder if he believes everything he says or if he is simply trying to keep his ratings high.

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  22. Two Cents says:

    LOVE the Christian radio stations. Listening to them is like an out of body experience. All they need is a laugh track and some songs about lumberjacks and spam and they’re right up there with Monty Python, sorry…

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  23. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    I think this insanity on the part of the Republican party illustrates, yet again, just how beholden the politicians themselves have become to the far right fringe within the party itself. The sad truth is it’s the 10% radical fringe that actually votes in the primaries and thus those running for office and who run the party itself practically stumble over themselves, right or wrong, to seem like they’re supporting the fringes stance on everything from prayer in school, creationism, to the fight against abortion, and now to women sexuality. It’s like the Terry Shiavo case from a few years ago. It’s like they can’t kiss the you know what of the fringe fast enough. It’d be comical if is wasn’t so sad.

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  24. brian mann says:

    Gary – The whole ‘blame the media’ dodge might have made sense a generation ago. Maybe in 2000 you could still argue some kind of significant media tilt. These days, Rush Limbaugh is the biggest radio force, Fox News is the biggest television news force, Rupert Murdoch is the biggest newspaper force, and Drudge and Breitbart are among the very biggest on-line/new media forces. It just doesn’t wash anymore, if it ever did.

    –Brian, NCPR

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  25. Republican strategists made a gross miscalculation. In their preparations for the ’12 elections, they obviously misconstrued it to mean the 1812 elections. That’s the only explanation for their behavior.

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  26. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Yeah and all those Hollywood lefties like John Wayne and Ronald Reagan and Charlton Heston and Fred Thompson.

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  27. Kathy says:

    I used to be a Republican back when the party stood for FISCAL conservatism. I grew embarrassed to be a Republican during the George W Bush era and switched parties then.

    The current republican rant, hiding as a defense of the First Amendment is really a war on women and women’s rights and women’s health care. They pretend to be defending the Constitution, but as usual are ignoring all the pieces they don’t really like. They are only for the First Amendment if you agree with them.

    As for Limbaugh’s latest pronouncement – just who does he think all these women needing contraceptives are having sex with? Does he have any problem with forcing employers to pay for Viagra?

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  28. Two Cents says:

    Breitbart is dead.
    That’s one in a row…

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  29. PNElba says:

    Rush is an entertainer, no more no less. I’ve said it before in these blogs, I just hope the media plays fair!

    Sorry, but evidence proves that statement is incorrect. If he were just an “entertainer”, responsible Republican members of Congress would tell him he went over the line. But they are all scared to death of him. When was the last time a sitting Republican congressman called out Limbaugh without later having to apologize for doing so?

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  30. RealityChck says:

    As an independent (formerly Republican) woman voter, I can say that yes, I have effectively been “scared off” by Republicans and the recent anti-woman rhetoric coming from the party lately. I will vote for Ron Paul, but he is the only Republican candidate I would consider. Gary Johnson (Libertarian) is my second choice, and Obama would be a last resort (only as the lesser of all evils). It seems the GOP thinks that middle-aged white men are the only audience they need to cater to.

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  31. Paul says:

    Brian, here you (rightly) call out some crazy statements made by a political candidate and a nutty talk show host. But when a sitting congress woman calls house leaders “demons” it only gets covered in the weirdo press:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f430gISaKfY

    You honestly don’t see any media “tilt”? I think that is delusional.

    This person is poised to become one of the most important committee chairs in the Congress.

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  32. mervel says:

    I think both sides are biased, CNN edits what it covers and how it covers them in the same way that Fox does, they are all cut from the same cloth.

    Limbaugh preaches to the choir and has a set large audience but it is not a truly national audience.

    And some of the comments here show a derision and hatefulness toward Christians that is just as biased and creepy as anything old Rush says.

    Look at the obsession with this topic that is shown on the in-box. Over and over we hear about the Catholic Church or Christians or social issues, I don’t hear the Republican Front runner talking about any of those issues.

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  33. dave says:

    Oh no! Not the “D” word!!

    Paul, the only thing delusional is thinking that situation is even in the same area code as this one.

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  34. Paul says:

    Brian, I did some looking and if you look at some peer reviewed articles on the subject you do see that there is a “tilt”. And the tilt is to the left. Here is one example below. You will note that PBS newshour (my favorite TV news program) fares pretty well:

    http://qje.oxfordjournals.org/content/120/4/1191.short

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  35. Paul says:

    Dave, like I said this is not really in the “same area code” she is a very powerful member of congress. This is serious stuff. If we want the government to function it will not happen this way. You listened to all her comments right? I like the way she blames some on the right for not “bringing the two sides together” right after she talks about how they should not be allowed in the capital! Classic.

    Dave, you don’t have to believe me. You should not. I would look at some of the papers that I found on the subject. You won’t find that covered by most of the media, so you will have to look yourself. I suggest you do it before accusing me of being delusional. But you are right I should not have said that to Brain either.

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  36. dave says:

    How on earth is blaming your opponent for not bringing the two sides together even remotely close to what is being talked about here?

    Do the papers you found use silly examples like the one you are trying to use? If not, then I suggest you use the examples they cite instead.

    Because if there is any validity to your point, you are not helping it by introducing examples like this one.

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  37. Kathy says:

    I am am a registered Republican and many women like me, have no intention of jumping on some Liberal, feminist bandwagon demanding our contraception to be paid for by our employer. There’s bigger fish to fry: the soul of our nation.

    Sometimes the solution to the problem can be as plain as the nose on our face and we can miss it. Republican women are not going to be side-tracked since the “fight” is to preserve a dying nation.

    Thanks to the Progressives who want change, and who are willing to alter the course of our nation in order to get that change, America’s roots are shriveling up and dying.

    Crossing party lines to re-elect President Obama for our own personal benefit (or the misconception that it’s for the benefit of all women) isn’t going to happen.

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  38. michael coffey says:

    Can JDM enlighten me on Obama’s vote on infanticide? I missed that.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  39. JDM says:

    michael coffey: it’s with reference to Newt’s comments at a recent debate.

    I hesitate to give too much detail until I know whether or not you really don’t know about Newt’s comments, or you which to refute them.

    Brian Mann: “Bt it’s not fair to suggest that such positions aren’t newsworthy.” My point isn’t whether or not the contraception issue is newsworthy. It’s more to point out that other newsworthy items that are hurtful to Dems, and Obama go unreported. That’s the media bias of silence.

    khl: the fairness doctrine is that we now have some conservative media. It used to be an unfair monopoly of liberal media, ABC, CBS, CNN, NPR, etc.

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  40. RealityChck says:

    I don’t understand why contraception is being treated differently than any other drug covered under insurance plans. Yes, it’s used for birth control. It’s also very widely used for medical conditions. It’s against someone’s beliefs to treat endometriosis, fibroids, cycle irregularity, or to help with hormone replacement? Birth control pills are like diabetes medicine. They shouldn’t be singled out to be completely paid for by a mandate, and they shouldn’t be treated as “the devil’s work” by the GOP. Medicine is medicine. Next someone will say insurance companies shouldn’t have to cover blood pressure medicine because they believe everyone should be eating a healthier diet. Why is this debate even happening?

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  41. oa says:

    Because sex is evil, RealityCheck. Evil.

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  42. michael coffey says:

    JDM: I had missed Newt’s use of the word “infanticide” to describe Senator Obama’s stand on whether a doctor was required by law to save the life of an infant subjected to a botched abortion–he thought that violated the woman’s right to decide. I thought you were saying that the media did not sufficiently investigate his position, and, by your logic, the media should not make anything of the republican position on contraception, which, in any event, it seems you think is merely a “smokescreen to cover Obama’s economic failures.”

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  43. PNElba says:

    Michael, it’s one of those “pants-on-fire” lies about Obama that conservatives seem to love.

    See here: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/mar/10/rick-santorum/rick-santorum-said-obama-said-any-child-born-prema/

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  44. JDM says:

    michael coffey: The smokescreen is two-fold. 1) cover Obama’s radical-left position on infanticide. 2) ignore his lying about it to the liberal media (who then ignored the lies and went on to some diversionary cover-up, like this one).

    On August 11, the National Right to Life Committee pieced together much of the hidden truth, uncovering Obama’s pattern of falsehoods.2 Obama’s false claims of support for the BAIPA are well documented, beginning in 2004…

    http://richardlandlive.com/documents/20080823-obama-on-baipa.pdf

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  45. mervel says:

    Well contraception from a cultural and legal standpoint is a fact of life in the US and I am not sure why it is an issue?

    There are several Churches who have a problem with some contraceptive methods and one that teaches against all artificial methods, but those are theological teachings not public ones. These same groups are also against divorce but no one is talking about outlawing divorce just as no one is talking about outlawing contraception.

    But who pays, that is a different issue. I think it is a personal private choice and thus being a personal private choice each individual family should pay for what they want.

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  46. michael coffey says:

    JDM: thanks for opening my eyes to this issue. I have found perfectly lucid and consistent explanations of Obama’s positions and understand exactly why he voted as he did when he did. But if someone sees this as favoring infanticide, there is nothing more to talk about.

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  47. Paul says:

    “How on earth is blaming your opponent for not bringing the two sides together even remotely close to what is being talked about here?”

    Dave, did you even look at the comments I was describing? I was not comparing what was said there and this issue here. It is just a classic example of something quite damming to the left that was ignored by most of the media.

    Read the paper I link to or look for some others. In fact if you find some I would like to see some that dispute the claim that there is a bias as well.

    “A top Rick Santorum donor argues that women who want cheap contraception should pinch an aspirin between their knees.”

    “Rush Limbaugh, argues that women who want their contraception covered by health insurance should offer payback to men.”

    A sitting congress woman says that the GOP leadership is DEMONIC and that they should be allowed in the halls of congress.

    Here you have coverage of a donor and a talk show host, and I point out that there wasn’t much coverage of a real politicians comments. These seem like reasonable example to me.

    Do you give more weight to a donor and a talking head than a congresswoman?

    It is possible that the reason for the “bias” is that many in the press agree with her comments??

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  48. Paul says:

    Correction “”should NOT be allowed in the halls”

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  49. Walker says:

    Mervel writes (9:49am) “And some of the comments here show a derision and hatefulness toward Christians that is just as biased and creepy as anything old Rush says.”

    Really? Calling Christians sluts and prostitutes? I missed those. Would you care to point them out?

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  50. Paul says:

    “I think it is a personal private choice” Mervel, I think you are coming into the light. We have to give everyone the chance to make that personal choice. That is what this compromise looks to do.

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