Monday, February 07, 2005


Single Women and the Democrat Vote

Hat Tip: Ron

The Nation reports that single women were the one bright spot for the Democrats in the 2004 election. A study commissioned by women's' Voices/women's Vote shows marital status to be a significant determine factor in terms of how women tend to vote:

the new research shows that unmarried women, who voted overwhelmingly for Kerry, "are social and economic progressives advancing a tolerant set of values."

In many ways, this doesn't come as a surprise to me at all, as I've heard this many times before. I remember once watching Pat Robertson on TV ask this very question. All his guests could surmise was that some single women tend to view Uncle Sam as a husband/father figure.

BUT, I will have to disagree here on several points. I think that people, at least in the big cities like New York, have been brainwashed into equating right leaning politicians with religious fanatic war mongers who hate poor people and minorities. That's especially true of affluent Jews. For example, I have two older sisters, both of whom are married with two girls. Both my sisters sent their girls to Yeshivas (Jewish day schools). Yet both voted for Kerry as they dislike President Bush. The biggest fear of my oldest sister is that President Bush will appoint pro-life justices to the Supreme Court. (Now how the right to abort babies has become so sacrosanct among Jews, I fail to understand, but I digress.) When I pointed out to my sisters that keeping one's legs closed would be a good idea, they both let me have it.

Furthermore, I have another liberal friend from college whom I love to death. She is married now with three small children. She has always been liberal and I don't see that changing one bit. The again, she's also Jewish, and Jews tend to be very liberal.

But getting back to single women almost invariably voting Democrat, I think that's slowly changing.

In the September 27 2004 issue of New York Magazine, Naomi Wolf wrote about how Karen Hughes and Laura Bush were winning the election for "W" by winning over women.

So they devised a deliberate strategy that went unnoticed by Democratic strategists, most of whom are white guys over 50: to showcase a moderate, mainstream feminist makeover for the Bush brand. Everyone fell for it, including the press. Bush’s speeches are routinely cast before the eye, I am convinced, of Karen Hughes, who spins tax cuts as a boon to women entrepreneurs, like the one Laura Bush mentioned in her convention speech (Carmella Chaifos, “the only woman to own a tow-truck company in all of Iowa”). The fallen heroes of Iraq are “moms and dads.” Afghanistan was the first time U.S. troops were deployed for a feminist goal, “so Afghan girls could go to school.”

Abortion is an issue not of Ms. Magazine–style fanaticism or suicidal Republican religious reaction, but a complex issue on which “good people can disagree.” (W. mimicked his father’s trick of catering to his religious base while leaking the fact that his wife is pro-choice.)

A key tactic is wife deployment. Is Dick Cheney a scary, old-guard, male-dinosaur guy? Send out Lynne to talk about how he whips up brunch. Karl Rove makes eggs with bacon for Mary Matalin! Laura Bush speaks eloquently about the young George W. changing the twins’ diapers. Why worry about abortion rights when you have Alan Alda in the White House? The Bush team sends out brilliant imagery of women vis-à-vis the president: carefully staging scenes in which a seated W. is listening attentively to a standing Condoleezza Rice. That image counts far more than a thousand words by John Kerry about child care.

While Bush Inc. is flooding women’s magazines with features in which Laura Bush gets out a family-friendly feminist message, Kerry et al. remain obsessed with sending white men out onto the Sunday talk shows—which women don’t watch.

And speaking of wives, Wolf doesn't go easy on Teresa Heinz-Kerry:

Unfortunately, Teresa Heinz Kerry’s speech, which all but ignored her husband, did more to emasculate him than the opposition ever could. By publicly shining the light on herself rather than her husband, she opened a symbolic breach in Kerry’s archetypal armor. Listen to what the Republicans are hitting Kerry with: Indecisive. Effete. French. They are all but calling this tall, accomplished war hero gay.

The charges are sticking because of Teresa Heinz Kerry. Let’s start with “Heinz.” By retaining her dead husband’s name—there is no genteel way to put this—she is publicly, subliminally cuckolding Kerry with the power of another man—a dead Republican man, at that. Add to that the fact that her first husband was (as she is herself now) vastly more wealthy than her second husband. Throw into all of this her penchant for black, a color that no woman wears in the heartland, and you have a recipe for just what Kerry is struggling with now: charges of elitism, unstable family relationships, and an unmanned candidate.

Liberal pundit Susan Estrich has also critiqued Teresa Heinz Kerry:

But certainly, one would have expected Mrs. Heinz Kerry to do what she had done on other occasions – to talk about how her husband had played a strong role in the lives of her sons, who had lost their own father; to talk about what he was like as a father to his own daughters; to talk about what he was like as a husband. At least that.

But she also called voters "idiots," when they didn't agree with her health plan, and is remembered for questioning whether Laura Bush, former teacher and librarian and full-time mother, had ever had a real job.

I remember a woman turning to me, after that remark, and asking: What did she do, but marry two guys, one of whom died and left her a billion dollars?

Still, I think Republicans have their work cut out for them in terms of reaching more women. Yet it's not impossible either. I mean, if you think about it, what woman really wants high payroll taxes, dividend taxes, capital gains taxes, death taxes, open borders, and a weak military post 9/11?

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