Category Archives: Women

Winning the female vote

A new Quinnipiac poll shows that President Obama has an 18-point lead among women, helping him to a 49% to 45% lead over Gov. Romney among likely voters nationwide.

That may help to explain why North Carolina is a battleground state.

In the Elon University Poll released on Labor Day, women were pretty evenly split between Obama (45%) and Romney (44%.) Romney dominates among male voters. The female breakdown was somewhat surprising because Democrats and Obama have routinely trended well with women. We will track that again in our next poll before the election.
— John Robinson

Where are the women voters?

One of the more striking bits of information in the Elon University Poll of likely voters in North Carolina is how men and women plan to vote. Fifty-two percent of men said they would vote for Gov. Romney if the election were held today. Forty percent would vote for President Obama. That divide is typical, according to national polls.

The news is that among women, 45% would vote for Obama and 44% would vote for Romney. That there is basically no gap is big news. Female voters have long been a strong, core constituency for Obama.

An ABC-Washington Post poll found the similar trends. “The decline has occurred entirely among women registered voters – from 57-39 percent favorable-unfavorable in April to a numerically negative 46-50 percent now. That’s Obama’s lowest score among women voters – a focus of recent political positioning – in ABC/Post polls since he took office.”

Our poll and ABC’s were taken before Michelle Obama’s address last night. By most accounts, it was a strong speech aimed at women. We will see if it helped. Meanwhile, the Christian Science Monitor details “six flash points” in the battle for women’s votes.

— John Robinson

Wednesday’s trending topics

The young adult vote — Harvard University surveyed 18-29 year-olds and 43% said they plan to vote for President Obama and 26% said they will vote for Mitt Romney. This is not the same but in February, the Elon University Poll showed that in the 18-34 age group, 48 percent of North Carolinians approve of how Obama is handling the presidency and 38 percent disapprove.

Past, present and possibly future first ladiesMichelle Obama and Ann Romney outscore their husbands in personal popularity in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, while Hillary Clinton, for her part, has hit a new high in favorability data stretching back to her entry on the national stage 20 years ago.

Marriage Amendment — Opinions of likely voters are shifting on the same-sex marriage ban amendment to the N.C. Constitution. PPP reports that 54% of likely voters say they support the amendment, which is down from its earlier polls. The Elon Poll earlier this month showed that 61% of North Carolinians say they oppose an amendment. The Elon poll surveys North Carolina residents, not just likely voters.

— John Robinson

Washington Post/ABC News poll reflects the sentiments of North Carolinians

The Washington Post/ABC News poll released today shows President Obama leading Mitt Romney on women’s issues, international affairs, middle class protection and health care. Obama also is seen as more likable, and he has a huge advantage with female voters.

The national poll results reflect trends the Elon University Poll saw in its two most recent surveys.


Female voters.

Foreign affairs.

And, the Washington Post/ABC News poll results suggest that on the most important issue to Americans — the economy — the GOP has some opportunities because Obama’s support there is weak. Our poll of North Carolina residents indicated the same thing.

Bear in mind, the general election is seven months away — an eternity in politics.

— John Robinson

Birth control: Not a pivotal issue in the presidential race

We released poll results this morning on how North Carolina residents feel about the health care mandate requiring employers to cover contraceptives for their female employees.

When it comes to using that as a litmus test for presidential candidates, birth control is low on the list, nationally.

Late today, Gallup released poll results saying that a candidate’s stance on birth control is the least important among six issues when it comes to voting. The 44% of registered voters who say that federal government policies on birth control will be important to their vote is substantially lower than the 73% to 80% of voters who say that about the five other issues tested in the poll.

More important are health care, unemployment, the budget deficit and national debt, international issues and gas prices.

There is a partisan difference, which may surprise you. Democrats are more likely to rate birth control policy as important than Republicans. Gallup attributes that to the support Democrats have from women. The higher level of importance for this issue among women could reflect the fundamental facts regarding women’s relationship to pregnancy and birth, as well as their reactions to the recent controversy.

— John Robinson

Employers, insurance and contraceptives

Two months ago, the healthcare debate focused on birth control and, most notably, the Catholic Church. As part of the nation’s new health care law, employers are be required to offer free preventive care services in their insurance policies, including contraceptives. An exemption was made for churches and other religious organizations who object.  Many Catholic leaders objected strongly, saying it violates the religious liberties of Catholic-affiliated hospitals, schools, and charities.

The Rush Limbaugh happened. He commandeered the headlines for days when he called a Georgetown law school student a slut and a prostitute because she spoke in favor of mandatory insurance coverage for contraception. As the debate raged over whether he would apologize and how many advertisers his program would lose, the policy issue of contraception coverage was mostly forgotten.

Not by us. We asked North Carolinians about it.

Forty-nine percent of North Carolinians say that employers should be allowed to opt out of covering contraceptives for their female employers. Forty-three percent say employers should be required to cover the full cost of contraceptives. The margin of error is 4.2%. (We didn’t poll on whether it was acceptable to call anyone those names, although some people have defended Limbaugh’s right to say them.)

This controversy ties up a lot of complicated issues: health care, big government, presidential politics, birth control and religion. (Ten percent of North Carolinians are Catholic, and the 50% of the residents consider themselves “very religious.”)  Couple that with a streak of libertarianism, and it’s not surprising that most of the state’s residents don’t think employers should bear the cost. 

Incidentally, as for Rush Limbaugh, the tempest has blown over and advertisers are coming back.

— John Robinson

Obama has support among women

A USA Today-Gallup survey released today confirms what the Elon University Poll showed last month: More women in North Carolina support the job President Obama is doing…and more men don’t.

The USA Today-Gallup poll is of likely voters in 12 swing states, including North Carolina, but it doesn’t break out state-by-state results. The Elon Poll surveys citizens and does not break out likely voters.

The Elon Poll showed that women (51) expressed stronger approval of Obama’s job performance than men (38 percent). Likewise, men (57 percent) disapprove of his job performance compared to women (40 percent).

In Illinois, Romney courts the female vote

The latest Elon University Poll showed that 51% of women approved of President Obama’s job performance, compared with 38% of men. Part of that gender gap is attributed to the Republican candidates’ focus on social issues, such as contraception, abortion and same-sex marriage.

Mitt Romney, for one, is making an effort to court female voters.

While women are hardly monolithic in their politics, the Romney campaign is urgently trying to shift the conversation back to the economy from more divisive social issues….

“You’ve got moms that are driving their kids to school and practice after school and other appointments, and wonder how they can afford putting gasoline in the car, at the same time putting food on the table night after night,” he said. “This president doesn’t understand the economy. He’s an economic lightweight, and he’s made decisions that have hurt the American people.”

The message could resonate well in North Carolina. The Elon Poll showed that women are less approving of how the president has handled the economy.

— John Robinson

President Obama opposes the same-sex marriage ban

President Obama waded into the same-sex marriage ban Friday, announcing his opposition to the constitutional amendment on the state ballot in May.

Why would he get involved in a state issue? Certainly, he thinks he can gain politically in a state that is a key to his re-election strategy.

The latest Elon University Poll showed he may just do that. Fifty-four percent of North Carolinians said they would oppose an amendment to the North Carolina constitution that would ban same-sex marriage. Thirty-eight percent support it. In addition, women strongly oppose the amendment banning same-sex marriage. And Obama has to win the female vote to win the election.

The News & Observer quoted Michael Munger, a political scientist at Duke, as saying that Obama has little to lose.

“This is a no-lose political proposition for him,” Munger said. “President Obama gets to come out and say ‘Hey, gay community, I am taking a stand that you care about.’ But by the time November rolls around, no one is going to remember, or the ones that do would have voted against Obama anyway.”

While his stand may help him politically, the question that won’t be answered until May 8 is whether the president’s opposition to the amendment helps the effort to defeat it. His opposition could make the distinction between how people feel and how the amendment is worded on the ballot clearer. Some polls say that people support the amendment when they are asked about it using the specific amendment wording.

From N.C. Policy Watch: The language of that amendment takes the hard line: it would ban all state recognition of same sex couples permanently – whether it’s called “marriage,” “civil union,” or something else.

If this truth is made clear to voters, the amendment will almost certainly fail as voters will quickly view it as too extreme. If, however, voters are allowed to approach the vote as (incorrectly) a simple “up or down” referendum on what they think of same sex “marriage,” it has a strong chance of passage.

 — John Robinson

Why the same-sex marriage ban may pass

Given the polling results, it might appear that the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages and civil unions will get swatted into the cheap seats to use a basketball analogy during ACC Tournament time.

Not so fast. There are a few reasons that the amendment may win the day. And I’ll outline them in a moment. But first, here is a taste of the national sentiment on this issue.

Same sex marriage legislation is a hot topic around the nation. It is expected to be on the ballot this year in five states. It even has implications in the presidential election.

In California: A Field Poll revealed that 59 percent of California registered voters support same-sex marriage — the highest level of support ever recorded during 35 years of surveying issue in the state.

In Maryland: A new poll commissioned by Marylanders for Marriage Equality shows 52 percent of respondents would “probably” or “definitely” vote for the same-sex marriage bill if it is on the ballot in November. The survey showed that 44 percent would “probably” or “definitely” vote the measure down.

In New Jersey: Most New Jerseyans support gay marriage, but they also believe the issue should be put to a referendum, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.

In I0wa: A majority of Iowans oppose passage of a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, a new Des Moines Register Iowa Poll shows.

Back in North Carolina, if the race for the Republican nomination is still on in May — and it could well be — then expect a heavy GOP turnout at the polls. Given that more Republicans support the amendment, their turnout may overpower the more liberal opposition to the amendment. It may well be up to amendment opponents to energize their supporters to actually get to the polls. (I suspect they know that already.)

If the 18-35 year-old voters don’t turn out in sizable numbers — they tend to have weaker turnout than older voters — then that will further weaken the opposition.

Be ready for a full-court press ad campaign from both camps.

The Elon Poll survey North Carolina residents, without making a distinction of whether people say they are likely to vote. While I doubt it skews the results in a measurable way because the opposition is strong, it could.

Update: N.C. Policy Watch points out another good reason. The language of that amendment takes the hard line: it would ban all state recognition of same sex couples permanently – whether it’s called “marriage,” “civil union,” or something else.

If this truth is made clear to voters, the amendment will almost certainly fail as voters will quickly view it as too extreme. If, however, voters are allowed to approach the vote as (incorrectly) a simple “up or down” referendum on what they think of same sex “marriage,” it has a strong chance of passage.

— John Robinson