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Excerpt: "With women breaking strongly for President Barack Obama and a banner year for women candidates, one thing is clear: the 2012 election is a mandate for women's equality and reproductive rights."

Supporters cheer after Barack Obama's projected win is announced during an election night event for new Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin in Madison, Wisconsin.  (photo: Darren Hauck/Getty Images)
Supporters cheer after Barack Obama's projected win is announced during an election night event for new Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin in Madison, Wisconsin. (photo: Darren Hauck/Getty Images)

Women Fought the GOP's 2012 'War on Women' and Won

By Nancy L. Cohen, Guardian UK

08 November 12


Women not only voted disproportionately for Obama, in distaste for Republicans, but also worked to make it a victory for women

clear victor has emerged in the Republican war on women. Women.

With women breaking strongly for President Barack Obama and a banner year for women candidates, one thing is clear: the 2012 election is a mandate for women's equality and reproductive rights.

Let's first take a look at the presidential vote. In a year when women's issues were hotly debated and Democrats touted their pro-women principles, women favored Obama by 11 points. The president also benefited from an 11-point gender gap and women's higher turnout. Making up 53% of the electorate, according to preliminary results, women accounted for the lion's share of Obama's current 2.5 million vote lead. Obama racked up astoundingly large margins among several subgroups: single women went for him by a 36-point margin, Latinas by a 51-point margin. Despite the Romney campaign's insistence that women would break for him on the economy, Obama's support among women overall was nearly identical with his showing in the historic 2008 election.

Women's rights likewise played a starring role in one of last night's unanticipated headlines. Twenty women, a record number, are likely headed to the US Senate. All but one are pro-choice Democrats who campaigned, as well, as feminists. The story in the US House of Representatives was similar, if not quite as spectacular. These female candidates were lifted to victory by women's disgust at Republican attacks on women, which was then channeled by women-focused political action committees, such as Emily's List, Women Vote, and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, into successful and well-funded campaigns.

Women's pro-Democratic leanings were particularly apparent in states with high-profile women candidates supported by these PACs. In Wisconsin, for example, Tammy Baldwin won women by a 17-point margin to became the first openly lesbian woman elected to the US Senate. Baldwin defeated former three-term governor and Bush cabinet secretary Tommy Thompson, who did nothing to endear himself with the ladies when he explained that he became a lobbyist because "my wife likes to shop, OK?"

Although exit polls show that the economy was the No 1 issue for voters, pre-election surveys provide strong evidence that women's issues were also on their minds. In the final NBC/ Wall Street Journal survey, likely voters rated Obama better than Romney at "dealing with issues of concern to women" by 24 points. Four out of ten swing-state women ranked abortion as their No 1 issue, according to an October Gallup poll, and among them, Obama held a three-to-one advantage.

Not only did women voters positively affirm their support for pro-women's rights candidates and policies, they also rebuked the GOP for its multi-pronged assault on women's rights. Down ballot and state contests offered more proof that the 2012 elections were a mandate for women's rights. New Hampshire's Tea Party standard-bearer, Ovide Lamontagne, a far-right Republican opponent of abortion and the state's gay marriage law, admitted just a few weeks ago that he opposed equal pay laws. Democrat Maggie Hassan won the governor's office with a 22-point margin among women.

Republicans can chalk up their failure to win control of the Senate to their abundance of clueless and loquacious gray-faced men: Todd "legitimate rape" Akin and Richard Mourdock, who seemed to think that God plays wingman for rapists, both lost races they would have won but for speaking out of church about their true beliefs on women and rape. The lesson here is that even in quite conservative states, voters reject anti-woman extremists.

The Republican party would do well to heed the message and take stock of its unpopular assault on women's rights. Consider what might have been had Romney "Etch-a-Sketched" sooner to close his gender gap - if he had said, "heck yes, I support equal pay for women," instead of rhapsodizing about "binders full of women"; if he had condemned Rush Limbaugh's attacks on Sandra Fluke; or if he'd stayed out of the GOP's birth control panic or not cut ads for Mourdock.

Instead, the morning-after mandate denialism has already begun. It was Sandy. It was Christie. It was robotic Mitt.

Don't fall for it. Women earned this victory. And we intend to claim it.

Nancy L Cohen is a historian and author. Her books include The Reconstruction of American Liberalism, 1865-1914 (2002) and, her latest, Delirium: How the Sexual Counterrevolution is Polarizing America (2012). Her journalism has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, Business History Review and Huffington Post. Nancy has held positions as a visiting scholar at UCLA's Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, and visiting professor of history at Binghamton University, SUNY, and Claremont McKenna College. She has also been a senior policy analyst at LAANE, an advocacy organization for economic empowerment and justice. your social media marketing partner


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+35 # Alice W 2012-11-08 10:18
Ratify the ERA. If not now, when? We don't need to ask, we simply need to introduce it and DARE any legislator to vote no for equality under the law. Get this done, we came too close to being tossed back into the dark ages. And believe me, those forces won't stop trying to do just that.
+12 # pegasus4508 2012-11-08 13:55
Alice you are so right. I cannot believe ANY woman would vote Republican. Just look at what they have done in VA, and tried to do in MS. With the spineless Rombot as their leader, all women, regardless of party would be firmly ensconced in the EARLY 1900's.
+18 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2012-11-08 12:26
How could any reasonably intelligent woman continue to remain in the Republican Party or the Libertarian Party after the assults made upon them?
The talk of a legitimate rape, vs. rape is mind challenging. Or is it?
+12 # ghostperson 2012-11-08 14:55
The GOP lost because in a nutshell, there is NOTHING for women in their world view.

Small government doesn't include mandated transvaginal probes.

Big government is one that actually regulates white collar crooks, something the GOP doesn't want.

There are no personal economic benefits for women who do not have control of their reproductive rights.

An economy built on mothers having to work 3 benefit-less jobs to keep the family's body and soul together is a system of indenture.

Trick down economics is really trickle "on" economics where women are concerned.

Women do not cotton to old, freaky, wizened, white men dictating to them about what they are entitled to do and have.

Finally, the GOP believed its own hype. Like everything else it does it's just hot air devoid of hard facts. The GOP was mesmerized by its own contrived mythology. Ergo, it suffered the consequences of self-induced hot airism.
+4 # readerz 2012-11-08 23:41
I feel beaten up by this election, and I want an apology from those Republicans who dared to say "rape" and "legitimate" in the same sentence, or accuse God of condoning rape.

I was a rape victim in 1985. In the last few weeks, my husband tells me that I have again been screaming in my sleep, after many years of peace.

But I also feel beaten up by "Citizen's United;" we had to dig deep to contribute our last pennies to try to counter the millions of dollars a few billionaires donated anonymously. We don't even know their agenda, do we?

The fight isn't over. I still feel beaten up. And still in my inbox are the requests for more donations; this time to protect the vote in Florida for Patrick Murphy that is being challenged by tea party loser Allen West who has unlimited cash for recounts. Patrick Murphy needs cash to protect those ballots.

Where do they find these losers with their pseudo-science and general hateful and destructive attitude?

Most of the world's poverty starts with discrimination and exploitation of girls and women. Most of the world's wealthiest nations support women. Not here in America; we seem hell-bent to go into the dark ages and third world. I'm glad for the victories, but this election has shown how close it got and how ugly many people are.
+2 # X Dane 2012-11-09 16:44

I do think they will LOOSE, ...the old white angry males..... As I ma sure you have seen, more women than men are voting and we have to make sure that it stays that way.

I am so sorry that you had such an awful experience. It must be so hard to live with. I am glad that your husband is with you, and I hope he is as supportive as you need and deserve.

Sadly some women are doubly harmed, when their husbands can't deal withe the rape of their wives and consequently leaves.

I didn't realize that you are a woman.
I was asking you in your other comment on Global warming what your profession is. You seem very knowledgeable about the subject.
I hope for your healing and peace of mind.
+3 # Vegan_Girl 2012-11-09 06:36
I wouldn't be so certain about victory. There is a very effective stealth war going on to reverse Roe v Wade. In 10 states, abortion is becoming virtually impossible. Not illegal - just impossible. see the article on the alternet from June 12
+2 # bingers 2012-11-10 11:38
Well, vegan_girl, at least the party of legitimate rape lost the presidency and some Senate and House seats.

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