RNC Chairman Downplays Gender Gap

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 18: Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus (R) talks with members of the press after speaking at the National Press Club March 18, 2013 in Washington, DC. During his remarks on a recent 'autopsy' held by the RNC on its shortcomings in the 2012 presidential campaign, Priebus announced a series of recommendations including fewer presidential debates, an earlier national convention, and community outreach programs in addition to other new initiatives.
National Journal
Alex Roarty
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Alex Roarty
March 18, 2014, 6:14 a.m.

Re­pub­lic­an Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee Chair­man Re­ince Priebus on Tues­day dis­puted the widely held per­cep­tion that the GOP struggles to at­tract the sup­port of fe­male voters, sug­gest­ing in­stead his party has a prob­lem with only a cer­tain kind of fe­male voter.

“There’s a little bit of a lazi­ness on the part of the people who want to claim the Re­pub­lic­an Party has some kind of wo­men prob­lem,” said Priebus, speak­ing at the Chris­ti­an Sci­ence Mon­it­or Break­fast. “We ba­sic­ally have a single wo­men prob­lem un­der 35 is­sue.”

The real ques­tion, the chair­man said, was why Demo­crats struggled to ap­peal to so many oth­er groups of wo­men.

“Why does the Demo­crat­ic Party have so many prob­lems in their en­gage­ment with mar­ried wo­men, or wo­men with chil­dren?” he asked.

The gender gap was a well-doc­u­mented prob­lem for the party dur­ing the 2012 pres­id­en­tial elec­tion, when Pres­id­ent Obama’s cam­paign ac­cused Re­pub­lic­ans of wa­ging a “war on wo­men” to bring up the GOP’s po­s­i­tions on con­tra­cep­tion ac­cess or abor­tion. In the af­ter­math of that race, many Re­pub­lic­an strategists em­phas­ized the need for the party to im­prove its out­reach to a vot­ing bloc that con­sti­tuted 53 per­cent of the vote in 2012.

The chair­man’s re­marks carry some valid­ity: Among some fe­male voters, the party did well. Mitt Rom­ney 56 per­cent of all white wo­men, ac­cord­ing to exit polls, and 53 per­cent of mar­ried wo­men of all races.

But Rom­ney still only car­ried 44 per­cent of the total fe­male vote, in large part be­cause of the party’s deep struggles with minor­ity wo­men. Ninety-six per­cent of black wo­men and 76 per­cent of Latino wo­men voted for Obama — both shares were high­er than their male coun­ter­parts. And while the GOP does well among mar­ried wo­men, it struggled far worse with un­mar­ried wo­men, just 31 per­cent of whom backed the GOP pres­id­en­tial nom­in­ee.

For the midterm elec­tions, Priebus said he ex­pec­ted Obama­care would help the party per­form far bet­ter with wo­men.

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