WASHINGTON – Democrats could have an advantage in the 2006 congressional elections by appealing to issues that concern women,according to a recent poll by a women's political group.
Emily's List,which aims to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights,released a survey last week asserting that support for the Bush administration is eroding,even among women who voted for the president last year.
Democratic candidates will be victorious if they show they can relate to women on a more personal level and push for issues that are important to them,such as Social Security and the war in Iraq,according to the survey.
A desire for change and the view that Republicans are promoting issues that are “grossly overreaching” are two main reasons why 8 percent of women who voted for Bush in 2004 plan to vote Democratic in 2006,said Karen White,Emily's List national political director.
“Republicans will continue to lose women if they fail to respect that women see themselves – not government or politicians – as the arbiter of family values,” said Ellen R. Malcolm,president of Emily's List,in a press release.
In 2004,Bush significantly narrowed the so-called gender gap,in which women tend to vote Democratic and men Republican.
Half of the women said they believe the country's best days economically have passed,according to the poll.
Polls come and go,and issues that are important now might not be important in a year,said Michael Bowman,executive director of Concerned Women Political Action Committee,an affiliate of a non-partisan group that aims to promote biblical and moral values. In the last election cycle,the PAC donated only to Republicans.
Married women are a stronghold in the conservative movement,and there are more conservatives on college campuses as well,Bowman said.
Congressional races are more about personality and successful campaigns,Bowman said. National issues are not central in congressional races,and voter turnout is lower in non-presidential elections.
Republican control of Congress and the White House shows that the country is moving toward a more conservative political agenda,Bowman said. Conservatives want candidates who are genuine in their beliefs and truthful,Bowman said.
Among all those polled,the Emily's List survey found that 40 percent plan to vote Democratic in 2006,36 percent will vote Republican and 24 percent are undecided.
Bush's approval rating was 47 percent,according to a June 19 Gallup poll. In an ABC/Washington Post poll in early June,34 percent of Americans approved of Bush's handling of Social Security,and 41 percent approved his handling of the situation in Iraq.
Women are inherently more interested in local news and issues,so it is imperative that Democratic congressional candidates localize national issues,said Geoff Garin,a pollster who worked on the Emily's List survey.
“These women don't care about foreign relations committees. They want to know about their neighbor's son in Iraq,” Garin said.
Women see politics and the world through their roles as a caregivers,Malcolm said. Many women are starting to see the administration's policies toward gay marriage and abortion rights as too intrusive,she added.
The Emily's List survey showed that women thought personal accountability was the most important quality of government officials,followed by “caring about people in need.”
The Emily's' List poll interviewed 2,613 people,nearly all women,in May. The margin of error is 1.9 percentage points for the whole sample and 2.2 percentage points among women.