September 12, 2004


What Women Voters Want (LANCE TARRANCE and LESLIE SANCHEZ, 9/12/04, NY Times)

After the Republican convention...the Bush-Cheney ticket closed to a virtual tie among women (49 percent for Mr. Kerry to 48 percent for Mr. Bush). At the same time, according to the Gallup numbers, Mr. Bush's huge lead among men (57 percent to 42 percent) remained stable.

Mr. Bush's growing strength among women is the result not just of his emphasis on issues they care about. Instead, his boost stems from his skill at articulating the issues in a way that appeals to women - especially in his acceptance speech 10 days ago.

Some commentators criticized parts of Mr. Bush's speech for resembling a State of the Union address, complete with a laundry list of domestic agenda items. His references to schools, children's health care and mothers who work outside the home were seen as a transparent effort to win favor with women. Other critics portrayed the convention mostly as a testosterone-fueled rally at which Republicans stressed Mr. Bush's toughness and strength in the war on terrorism.

Our analysis of the speech differs. For the first time, the president was able to broaden his appeal to women not just by discussing social issues. He also found a way to talk about terrorism and the war in Iraq in a way that resonates with women.

The president's speech was interesting to us because it overlapped with some of the work we did this year analyzing the women's vote for a conservative women's group. Our work culminated last month with focus groups among undecided Republican and independent women voters. It soon became apparent that Mr. Bush's popularity among women would hinge on three critical elements: his building an emotional connection, humanizing himself and portraying himself as the candidate who can keep America safe.

Mr. Bush managed to hit all these points in his speech.

The gender gap has almost always been wider among men, who are naturally conservative, than among women, naturally liberal, yet is almost always spoken of as a Republican problem. At any rate, if Mr. Bush just stays close to splitting the women's vote with Mr. Kerry he'll win by double digits.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 12, 2004 2:22 PM

I continue to marvel at journalists who express surprise that Bush's views on fighting terrorism connect with women while ignoring that the Republican Convention played out against a backdrop of 1000 kids taken hostage on opening day of school.

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at September 12, 2004 2:51 PM

What about the girley man vote?

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at September 12, 2004 3:06 PM

I think it's Michelle Malkin who talks about the "security mom" vote. Instead of the soccer moms from the 1990s, we have women trending Republican in order to protect their families. Who cares about govt. health care or education funding when we're at war with terrorists? Plus George Bush is just plain sexy! :-)

Posted by: Kay at September 12, 2004 3:40 PM


That would seem to validate Orrin's assertion that conservative men in general are far sexier.

Actually, I don't recall his saying exactly that, but he has argued that we're superior in just about every other important category so I assume that one too. Do you think the turn-on is the wounds suffered in battles over tax cuts or just the natural animal magnetism of championning private property rights?

Posted by: Peter B at September 12, 2004 5:04 PM

I guarantee that those moments during the tail end of the acceptance speech where he obviously had (sincere) tears in his eyes hit home for large numbers of women.

Posted by: brian at September 12, 2004 5:07 PM


Well, men who aren't conservative are, by definition, insecure, so unmanly.

Posted by: oj at September 12, 2004 5:12 PM

Don't forget Zell Miller's emphasis on protecting the family and that GWB is the man he'd trust to do so. He moved a few key pieces on the board in saying what a lot of people, regardless of party, have been thinking. We owe him "big time."

Posted by: genecis at September 12, 2004 9:21 PM

Other critics portrayed the convention mostly as a testosterone-fueled rally at which Republicans

As opposed to a convention that celebrated the nominee's war service, and featured him 'reporting for duty'?

Posted by: Chris B at September 12, 2004 9:41 PM