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Insiders Divided Along Party Lines in Predicting Winner of Contraception Debate

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President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Oval Office to discuss ongoing efforts to find a balanced approach to the debt limit and deficit reduction, July 20, 2011.(Pete Souza/The White House)

Three-quarters of the Democratic Insiders surveyed were confident that President Obama would ultimately benefit most from the controversy. Many had their eye on the key swing voting bloc of independent women.

"The issue has become about access to contraception, and helps President Obama enormously," said one Democrat. "It is mobilizing not just the progressive base, but also independents, and it may be the single issue powerful enough to move Republican women to vote Democratic."

"Women will decide the election, and they like to decide what happens to their bodies as well," argued another.

"Independent white women have just been reminded that who they vote for matters on a personal level," agreed a third Democrat.

A few Republicans saw it similarly. "POTUS laughing as GOP tells independent women why they continue to support Obama yet again, instead of talking about jobs," lamented one.

Many Democratic Insiders also felt the stance Republicans were taking in the controversy would portray them as out-of-touch with modern America.

"We are talking about birth control in the year 2012, not 1950," remarked one Democratic strategist. "This can't be good for Republicans any way you cut it."

"Are you kidding?" scoffed another. "You could not have written a better script for alienating female independent voters. This is 'Mad Men'-era political strategy."

One Republican Insider echoed this perspective. "Republicans completely took the bait and now look like they are opposed to contraception for women. And the discussion was diverted away from jobs and the economy - the only issues they can win on."

However, most Republican Insiders echoed the message GOP officials have been emphasizing publicly: It's not about contraception; it's about religious freedom.

"Raising the issue of government intrusion into anything -- especially religion - does not work in Obama's favor," said one Republican strategist.

"Even disaffected Catholics don't like the President messing with their church," agreed another Republican. "Bad move for the president."

"So, let me see, not content to trash the GOP, the White House has taken on every practicing Catholic in the country," remarked a third. "What genius."

At least one Democratic Insider agreed, saying, "This rattled even liberal Catholics, and the compromise is an obvious fig-leaf. The administration blew this badly, and it will hurt."

Other Republicans felt the controversy would have an impact beyond the immediate issues of contraception and religious objections.

"This energized pro-lifers and pro-choicers, and will mostly be a wash on that front," argued one Republican respondent. "But it says something about Obama, and it is an ugly policy that will help the GOP more than Obama."

Another Republican saw it as the tip of an iceberg: "Everyone is now afraid of the full impact of 'Obamacare.'"

Those arguments aren't swaying most Democratic Insiders, who seem happy to let the debate rage on.

"Come on Republicans, please focus your time and energy refighting the merits of birth control," pleaded one. "Make our day."

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