In Last-Ditch Attempt to Woo Women Voters, Romney Promises Love and Cheap Gas
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Janet O'Connor, 53, attended the rally with two friends. All of them are doing volunteer work for the Romney campaign. I asked if she found Romney to be everything she hoped he would be.
"And then some," she replied. "Even more -- he was just so genuine. We're just so grateful and so proud to have been able to be here and to listen to him." Like many of the women I spoke to, she described Romney as her first choice in the Republican primary field.
But someone must have told him that women, often acting as the family taxi service, are keenly aware of gas prices, so Romney trotted out the trope about gasoline prices, pretending that the president has control of the pricing of a global commodity, and failing to note that gas prices were at a record low when Obama took office because the economy had just tanked at the hands of George W. Bush.
“By the way, gasoline -- that now costs $2,000 more a family than when he was elected,” Romney said of Obama.
Incidentally, the gasoline trope echoes the talking points of Americans for Prosperity, the astroturf group founded by the multi-billionaire Koch brothers, who also fund a think tank housed at the university where the rally took place. AFP, which is turning out the vote, presumably on Romney's behalf, has been giving away f ree gas in battleground states in order to drive their trope home.
The implicit promise, of course, is that if elected president, Romney would assume the powers of a Lord Bountiful, bestowing cheap gasoline upon the grateful citizens -- especially the moms.
Romney’s women problem
Just as Obama is on the short side of a gap with Romney in the support he enjoys among white men, Romney suffers a similar gap with support from women. But it’s not an even trade, because, as AlterNet’s Lynn Stuart Parramore reports, women vote in greater numbers than men.
The conventional wisdom holds that Romney’s electoral map holds no prospect for victory unless he wins Virginia, where he and Obama are locked in a virtual tie, according to the polls. So his only hope, by this reasoning, lies in achieving a higher voter turnout than Obama.
In Virginia, the gender gap is particularly acute. According to the latest Public Policy Polling survey of likely voters, “Obama leads by an incredible 17 points among Virginia women, who comprise 55 percent of PPP's sample,” according to Business Insider. Romney leads among the commonwealth’s men by 16 points, but they comprise a smaller percentage of the electorate. So unless Romney can win more women, his prospects for victory remain iffy. (The PPP poll, however, gives Obama a 3-point advantage over all, but that’s within the margin of error.)
If only those independent women voters regarded Romney with the same awe as the women I met in the Patriot Center, Romney would win hands-down.
"Seeing what I've seen today, I think he's going to take Virginia, overwhelmingly," said Maureen Caddigan, a county supervisor in Prince William County. "No doubt in my mind."
Even among women? "I can't imagine why they'd say women weren't for him," Caddigan said of Romney. "He's handsome, he's presidential, he's got a beautiful marriage, a beautiful wife -- why wouldn't women love him?"