Obama campaign reaches out to women

Chicago (US), May 15 (Xinhua-ANI): As the general election draws nearer, President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign is increasingly targeting female voters, as polls currently show women prefer the president to Republican challenger Mitt Romney by a sizable margin.

According to the latest USA Today/Gallup swing state poll released May 7, Obama enjoys a 12 percentage-point lead among women, whereas Romney holds an eight percentage-point lead among men. Female voters in 12 battleground states supported Obama over Romney 52 percent to 40 percent, while men supported Romney over Obama 50 percent to 42 percent.

That compares to the Obama-Romney matchup of 47 percent to 45 percent among registered voters in swing states as a whole, according to the same USA Today poll.

Given how close the election could be and the significant gender gap that is partly responsible for the President’s slim lead in the polls, the Obama campaign has been quick to step up its efforts to retain the support of female voters and ensure women get out to vote in November.

In a conference call in Washington Monday for the Obama campaign’s Women for Obama division, First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off National Women’s Health Week by rallying grassroots women’s groups to spread the word about the President’s commitment to women’s issues.

“From now until November, Barack needs all of you to get out there and tell everyone you know about our values and our vision and about everything that’s at stake in this election,” the First Lady urged, after speaking for a few minutes about the president’s policy work in issues such as health care reform and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which made it easier for women to sue for pay discrimination.

“Barack understands that issues like equal pay and women’s health care – these aren’t just women’s issues, they are family issues and they are basic economic issues,” said Michelle Obama, tying the women’ s narrative to issues voiced by Democrats in general.

The Obama campaign says they currently have pledges from 280,000 American women to volunteer for the President’s reelection campaign.

Obama himself also reached out to women Monday, traveling to New York City to give the commencement address at Barnard College, an all-women university.

In the president’s speech to the graduating class, Obama stressed the importance of female participation in fields from government to science, and encouraged young women to “fight for their seat at the table.”

Obama also lamented the current environment that saw females occupy less than one in every five seats in Congress, and praised the strong women in his life like his mother and grandmother that had continually inspired him.

Also on Monday, Obama headed to television studios to help tape an episode of “The View,” a daytime talk show that appeals to a female audience and is also hosted by an all-women panel.

Many analysts see the Obama campaign commanding the female vote in part because of the president’s commitment to health care, which women see as an issue important to their families’ well being.

According to the USA Today/Gallup swing state poll taken in March, healthcare is the most important voting issue for women. In contrast, healthcare ranked a tied third for men, with males saying that the national deficit was the issue that mattered most to them. The national deficit placed a tied fourth place for women on their voting priorities.

The March USA Today poll also came shortly after a contentious battle between GOP congressional leaders and the Obama Administration regarding insurance coverage of birth control medication.

While the Obama Administration argued that insurance companies must cover contraception for women, Republicans largely objected on grounds that it violated the United States’ commitment to religious freedom.

The Obama contraception coverage requirement would also be enforced in Catholic institutions, even though Catholic leaders criticized that it went against their religious teachings that discourage birth control.

In response to widespread Republican opposition regarding women’s contraceptives, some Democrats argued that the GOP was waging a “war on women” and sought to eliminate federal funding for women’s health initiatives.

The Republican controversy surrounding the birth control measure was largely perceived by the American public as being outdated and old-fashioned, and many analysts hold that the high publicity surrounding the debate exacerbated problems Republicans already have with the women’s vote.

While presumptive Republican nominee Romney has stressed that he remains committed to women’s issues and that the economy will be the most important to female voters, many U.S. women’s groups have criticized Romney for both his anti-abortion position and recent pledge to “get rid of” Planned Parenthood, a women’s organization that specializes in women’ s healthcare but also provides abortions.

In the 2008 election, Obama captured 56 percent of the female vote, with a 12-percent gender gap posted nationwide in his campaign with Republican John McCain. According to the USA Today poll, Democratic presidential candidates have done better with female voters than male voters since 1980. (Xinhua-ANI)