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Wolf writes: "With Obama winning women by 12%, and Romney winning men by 8%, the full gender gap was an unprecedented 20 percentage points."

Portrait, author and activist Naomi Wolf, 10/19/11. (photo: Guardian UK)
Portrait, author and activist Naomi Wolf, 10/19/11. (photo: Guardian UK)

Republicans Persuaded Women to Re-Elect President Obama

By Naomi Wolf, Guardian UK

16 November 12


For the activists of Emily's List, working to improve women's political representation, Republicans like Todd Akin were a gift

n spite of the hype from Fox News that the gender gap of women voting in Democrats' favor has vanished, a new Gallup poll revealed that this year's gap was the largest ever recorded in the polling company's history. With Obama winning women by 12%, and Romney winning men by 8%, the full gender gap was an unprecedented 20 percentage points.

While analysts point to the obligatory "social safety net" appeal of Democrats for women, versus the entrepreneurship appeal of Republicans for men, few commentators are addressing the real reasons. Obama's win, and the victories of the additional Democrats in Congress, are due to the Democrats' success in appealing to minority voters, the youth vote and, in particular, women's votes - by siding with each of those groups' concerns on a variety of pertinent issues.

Jess McIntosh, a spokeswoman at the pro-choice Democratic advocacy group Emily's List, analyzed the role of women voters during this election thus:

"Emily's list has been around for 27 years. We have been building the pipeline of women candidates who are ready for higher office. So when opportunities arise, we have a bench of strong women candidates ready to go. And they were ready to capitalize on this absolutely insane divisive social agenda."

Republican extremists, she noted, have managed in past election cycles not to tip their hand about an agenda that broadly targets reproductive rights - let alone let slip their views regarding "legitimate rape". So why did these messages come out now? McIntosh further explained:

"Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock simply said what the rest of the party has been thinking for a long time. Since the Republicans took over the House, they immediately went after women's healthcare. House resolution 3 was the bill that redefined rape - with Paul Ryan as a co-sponsor. The fact that the party was going in that direction laid the ground work for Todd Akin. [He] wasn't an outlier."

A fund, Women Vote (the independent expenditure arm of Emily's List), pays for issue-based ads, and spent $2m this year. Women Vote informed focus groups about Republican opposition to the Paycheck Fairness Act, which few women knew about:

"They were shocked to learn that anyone opposed measures to close the pay gap. When we tested the ad, the numbers were through the roof - 70% of the women thought that opposition to equal pay legislation was a reason to oppose Republicans. So we ran a lot of ads on this issue, in a number of battleground states."

Women Vote also ran ads on reproductive rights, framing the issue in terms of "taking away women's healthcare decisions". McIntosh saw there was a stark difference between the two parties in terms of "who trusted women to make their own health decisions", and attested the ads that ran on the issue moved independent female voters.

Was the gender gap decisive in Obama's victory?

Women certainly were the reason he won, McIntosh said. "The second Romney picked Paul Ryan as his running mate, he clarified that this was an extremist ticket". Was this shift in voting habits - especially by single women, who voted for Obama by 67% - a furious national Slutwalk? A defiant resistance to the legislation of women's personal choices, but one that went all the way to the voting booths?

As Emily's List's president, Stephanie Shriock, put it, women were furious over what they were hearing from the Republicans, from the medically unnecessary transvaginal sonograms to the discussion of "legitimate rape". In her analysis, Republicans had never before shown their hand completely in terms of what their goals were in relation to reproductive rights. With influence from the Tea Party this election cycle, that changed.

Rightwing women operatives are irate as well. Bush administration appointee Karen Hughes, writing in Politico last week, assailed Republican comments on rape and abortion:

"[I]f another Republican man says anything about rape other than it is a horrific, violent crime, I want to personally cut out his tongue … The college-age daughters of many of my friends voted for Obama because they were completely turned off by Neanderthal comments like the suggestion of 'legitimate rape'."

Hughes is the little-heralded but significant strategist who helped Bush beat Gore - to the extent that he was beaten - by making Republican men look moderate on women's issues. Her trademark was forcing soft-focus, mainstream feminist imagery on anti-choice, paleo-conservative demagogues. She had Republican men bemoaning the Taliban's attack on young girls' education, thus selling the invasion of Afghanistan as a giant "Take our Daughters to Work Day" program.

When a woman as effective as Hughes are this angry about the losing hand that Republicans play when they resurrect their own homegrown Talibanism - by, for instance, redefining rape as less criminal or reprehensible in certain situations - we should take note.

The upshot of all this fury? Three new congresswomen brought to you by Emily's List, all under the age of 40 - Grace Meng (New York), Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii), and Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona) - are heading to Washington, DC.

As for the "legitimate rape" guy and the "rape is God's will" dude (not to mention the "redefining rape bill" vice president hopeful)? In underestimating the wrath of women, they were sent home. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+40 # Robert B 2012-11-16 10:45
"Hughes is the little-heralded but significant strategist who helped Bush beat Gore - to the extent that he was beaten...."

Al Gore won 50.3% of the popular vote, as well as Florida and the electoral vote. George Bush lost the election, but was installed by the Supreme Court. The election was STOLEN, contrary to the voters and the Constitution. Several people should be in Leavenworth for that.
+31 # Regina 2012-11-16 10:47
It serves the crackpots right! But we must remain vigilant against them and any new ones that might crawl out of the woodwork in 2014.
+4 # Texas Aggie 2012-11-16 15:29
From out of the sewage treatment plant, you mean.
+25 # AMLLLLL 2012-11-16 11:00
There is justice after all...could be this is the beginning of finding our voices as citizens, male or female. Without pro-active citizen input, we give the beach head away. Welcome to the future.
+28 # juliajayne 2012-11-16 11:12
Karen Hughes can bemoan what Republican "men" do now that they lost an election. But she apparently enabled them, knowing that the planks in their party are not pro-life, essentially, but anti-woman. She was putting the lipstick on her little pigs and now she lambastes them?? Gee, I wonder if she was upset when all of these so-called "personhood" ammendments and other stupidity like forced, medically unneccessary ulta sounds were sponsored in all of those state houses? She's a disgrace.
+15 # reiverpacific 2012-11-16 11:31
I'd like to hear some opinions from the ladies on this forum (and I'm on your side but really want to know from women only, as it's something I've always been fascinated by) how they might explain high-profile Rethug' women like the very intelligent but arrogant Condoleeza Rice, the not-too-smart but deeply opportunist Sarah Palin and the smart but deranged Ann Coulter (just to name three).
Perhaps I should write to Ms Klein on this subject.
Just a question from a regular socialist-type bloke -I usually stay out of these uniquely women's issues but it's a point of personal fascination.
+6 # JosephR 2012-11-16 12:56
reiverpacific - no, I'm not female, but I just want to tell you that I've agreed with everything, I think, that you've commented on. From a Canadian, keep up the comments please, and well done!
+11 # womyn 2012-11-16 13:44
Simply stated, the women you mentioned, some of the worst!, are literally patriarchal women, although they surrendered their ovaries and womanhood for testicles, which produce high levels of testosterone (aggression, power, dominance, etc.) these patriarchal women chose to sell their souls and assume the dark side of the patriarchal paradigm.

The Patriarchal paradigm dominates and rules patriarchal governments around the world, and also the patriarchal religions, for example: ALL Christian-Judeo religions, Mormonism, Roman, Greek, Russian, Anglican Catholics, Hinduism, Islam, etc, ad nauseam.

PATRIARCHAL religions are dominated by men, ruled by men,
and men write their religious books, bibles, etc., written to take dominion over Mother Earth and resources, dominate, manipulate, subjugate and oppress women and children, and people of color, and against homosexuality.

Inequality and dominance over women and children is behind
all of these "man-made religions," which were certainly not God or Allah, or Supreme Being inspired. That's BS.

Further, under patriarchal rule, the only way women can attempt to achieve success is to act-like, talk-like, walk-like, think-like a patriarchal man.

In patriarchal societies, there are men (both straight and gay)
who do NOT support the patriarchal paradigm, few and far between, I am afraid. I am married to one. All my male friends are same. Equality for all, respect Mother Earth!
and valuing Moth
+14 # womyn 2012-11-16 14:08
Until women have 100% control over their bodies and are allowed to make their own decision regarding "pro-choice," they will never ever have equality!

Men: If you personally do not support a woman's right to choose, then keep your mouths shut and your ZIPPERS zipped! This is a woman's issue. Men impregnate women! Birth control is not 100% either, even with birth control pills!

Further, until 1869, there were no civil laws against women's right to choose. First came civil laws against women's rights
(not for moral reasons either), only later did religions follow. Do your research!

I want to scream aloud every time I hear the term "pro-life"
used with women's pro-choice. Have you noticed the so-called "pro-life" folks are also pro-war and pro-death penalty? Go figure!
What blanking hypocrisy!

Pro-choice folks like me are also anti-war, anti-death penalty!

Also, wealthy and well connected women can always get
abortions (legal or not) under sterile conditions. Not the working poor, poor, or lower middle class. Fact!

At least 50% of all legal abortions performed in the US last year were provided for Christian, Catholic, Jewish, etc. women.
My personal experience with anti-pro-choice women (I've encountered many) is that they had abortions and later felt guilt and shame because they bought into the patriarchal belief system.
+5 # Texas Aggie 2012-11-16 15:34
But when it's come to Jesus time and a single woman is pregnant, then the catholics lead the other two major US religions (Judaism and Protestantism) in abortions. It is correlated with rejection of birth control.
+14 # Dale 2012-11-16 13:41
The legacy of patriarchy and the ideology of sexism function to divide people and subvert consciousness of the place of the male population in the class order. It is no accident that the 2012 Republican campaign placed such a heavy emphasis on denying the rights of women. They are appealing to the white males who fetishize all things macho to mobilize them for right wing reaction, along with the fundamentalist Christian sects. Women´s bodies are meant to be controlled by men who tote guns, drive big pick-ups, and like to push people around. Women´s place is in the bedroom, the kitchen, the nursery, and the church pew.... When males with macho self-conception s are deprived of their class situational privilege and power to bully by the workings of the system, the more fragile can become their masculinity and the display of their peacock feathers ever more pronounced. The privilege of being male, especially but not exclusively white male, can and too often does morally corrupt. And the symbols of masculine superiority are daily reinforced with the flip of the television control-- women are displayed as sex objects; war and killing are celebrated as defense of the privileged Homeland; the couch potatoes delight in spectator sports that are displays of violent aggression, that enshrine the glories of competition in which the strongest and best prevail...excer pted from "A Close Look at the 99%, the 1%, and What Occupy is up against." See at
+2 # womyn 2012-11-16 16:45
Brilliantly stated Dale! ~Artemis Rose

+3 # Texan 4 Peace 2012-11-16 21:29
If these anti-women politicians were really interested in reducing the number of abortions, they'd support comprehensive sex ed and access to contraception. Find me ONE who does. It's clearly about controlling women, not saving fetuses.
+1 # reiverpacific 2012-11-16 22:06
Thanks -keep it up ladies (I'm not being patronizing, just polite). I'm learning and ever open to more.

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