Pro-Choice Women Flee From McCain When They Discover His Positions
August 22, 2008
Dahlia Lithwick in Slate notes that as badly as John McCain is polling with women, it gets worse once they realize that he wants to do everything he can to make sure that women of reproductive age don't get to control what happens to their bodies; that government will:
A quick look at the polls reflects McCain's problem: He's running behind Obama with women voters. A poll released yesterday by Emily's List has Obama beating McCain by a 12-point margin among all registered female voters and by 30 points among registered female voters ages 18 to 27. A February Planned Parenthood poll of 1,205 women voters in 16 battleground states found that 49 percent of women who backed McCain did so despite being pro-choice, and 46 percent backing him also wanted Roe v. Wade to remain the law of the land. It's clear that once these voters find out McCain's real record on reproductive rights, they flee. The problem, as Sarah Blustain points out in this great piece, is that voters don't seem to be finding out.
McCain needs these pro-choice women, but every time he tries to reach out to them, he gets smacked upside the head by his base. When he floated the notion of naming a pro-choice vice president last week--either former Pennsylvania Gov. and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge or Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman--Rush Limbaugh snarled that "if the McCain camp does that, they will have effectively destroyed the Republican Party and put the conservative movement in the bleachers." Limbaugh also pledged that tapping Lieberman or Ridge would "ensure [McCain's] defeat." So McCain needs to keep his base happy--and the rest of us in the dark.
John McCain is banking on his reputation as an independent maverick to snooker voters into thinking that his abortion views are centrist, no matter what he actually says. It's a risky strategy: Don't believe what I say. Believe what you used to believe before I opened my mouth. But that's where the Jessica Seinfeld trick comes in. Your kid eats the meatloaf because it looks like a meatloaf. And voters continue to think McCain is a maverick because he looks like one.
Voters, and especially women voters who want to make their own reproductive decisions, need to wake up and smell the asparagus.