U.S. Election Latest

October 29, 2012 by  

U.S. Election Latest, The Democrats’ huge lead among female voters is crumbling. In the swing state of Florida, it’s not ‘women’s issues’ that will decide who they back – it’s jobs and the economy Angela Shaw does not believe it, but she is in the frontline of a war. The 42-year-old Florida lawyer is in a crucial swing state and thus represents what is emerging as a decisive factor in America’s 2012 election – the female voters set to determine the race for the White House.

As the bitter contest enters its final week, President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are neck-and-neck and their campaigners are now doing everything they can to persuade voters that their party would best serve women’s interests.

Television ads appeal directly to them; at campaign stops both Obama and Romney speak about them; and surrogates from Bill Clinton to Cindy McCain are wheeled out to tout for their support. Yet Obama has seen a strong lead among women almost disappear, making it feasible that they might vote on 6 November to put a Republican back in the Oval Office.

That is certainly what Shaw wants to see. “I think Obama has been an abysmal failure. He’s done nothing for people like me,” she said at a campaign stop in the central Florida town of Winter Park, where Romney’s spouse, Ann, was holding a rally. Shaw said she had been largely out of work for the last four years, as had her husband, an estate agent. That, she said, was more than enough to make her want Obama to lose. “If Romney wins, I think there will be an economic uptick. It would be not be overnight, but the economy will be finally moving forward,” she said.

That sort of sentiment is a nightmare to the Obama team. For months the Democrats have enjoyed a huge lead among women. It helped them weather much of Romney’s rise after Obama’s disastrous performance in the first presidential debate.

Now there are signs that this usually solid bulwark of support is crumbling. A poll last week from AP-GfK had Obama and Romney level among women at 47 points each. Only a month ago the same survey had Obama ahead by 16 points. The average of the overall national polls has Romney edging into a two-point lead. “Obama must do very well with women voters or not get a second term,” said Professor Robert Watson, an expert in American studies at Lynn University in Florida.

Some experts believe the Democrats have made a strategic mistake. Over the summer the Obama campaign leaped on a series of gaffes by Republican politicians and conservative commentators, such as radio host Rush Limbaugh, on abortion, rape and reproductive rights.

Democrats touted a “Republican war on women” as one of the main planks of their campaign and seemed destined to tighten their hold on the female vote. But now it seems that a simple fact has been overlooked: in a struggling economy, women voters will put concern over jobs first. One study showed that, of the 2.6m jobs created since the recession ended, 80% have gone to men. “The Democrats played up social issues and thought they were going to coast to victory,” said Katherine Jellison, a history professor at Ohio University. “Now Democrats have to spin the social issues back to the economy.”

Yet that territory is one the Republicans have been owning for months. Romney and his running mate, the firebrand Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan, have hammered home their argument that Obama has failed to stimulate the economy or significantly reduce the suffering of those hit by joblessness. The AP poll, for example, showed 51% thought Romney would do a better job of managing the economy, compared with 44% for Obama.

That was the message Ann Romney was pumping out in Winter Park. Though the town, near Orlando, is one of the most upmarket in the state, with its leafy streets lined with expensive bistros, the image Romney painted was of an America on the brink of collapse.

“Like you, we have friends and neighbours that are suffering in this economy,” she told the predominantly female crowd. “We’re going to get it right this time, and we’re going to make sure in November that we make Mitt Romney the next president of the United States.”

Of course, the Obama campaign is far from dead. His team still expects to win, both with women voters and overall. Speaking to journalists last week, Obama’s top political adviser, David Axelrod, was full of confident bluster, even offering a $10,000 bet to reporters that Romney could not explain how he plans to balance the ballooning deficit. “We feel strongly that we have the winning hand,” he said. “Governor Romney will take us back to the foreign policy of the 1980s, the social policy of the 1950s and the economic policy of the 1920s.”

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