Rick Santorum and Women Voters

On February 28, the day after the Michigan primary, there were a number of news stories about Rick Santorum’s problem with women. In fact, Santorum lost the Michigan primary by 3 points and he lost women voters to Romney by 5 points. If he had done better with women, Santorum would have been the winner. Patricia Murphy at The Daily Beast wrote:

Female voters in Michigan spoke out Tuesday night, but they weren’t singing Rick Santorum’s tune. The former Pennsylvania senator lost the Michigan primary to Mitt Romney by 3 points due in large part to his weakness among Michigan women. Although Santorum lost among Michigan men by just 1 point, he lost the women’s vote by a full 6-point margin, leaving him well behind Romney and unable to close the gap with male voters in any way.

Not only did he lose among women voters, Santorum lost in every female demographic group.

Santorum lost every category of women polled Tuesday night, including working women, single women, and married women. He lost working women by 4 points, single women by 7 points, and married women by 3 points.

Of course it shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that women are wary of Santorum. He has repeatedly talked about his opposition to abortion and birth control and his belief that feminists have fooled women into going to college and building careers instead of staying home and home-schooling the children who results from their many pregnancies.

Either Santorum spontaneously remembered that women can vote or his advisers reminded him before he gave his post-Michigan concession speech, because Santorum really laid it on thick about how much he respects women and how many “strong” women he has known and loved.

“I grew up with a very strong mom, someone who was a professional person who taught me a lot of things about [sic] how to balancing work and family, and doing it well, and doing it with a big heart and commitment,” he said. He also praised her for getting a college education in the 1930s and eventually a graduate degree in nursing.

“She worked all of my childhood years. She balanced time, as my dad did, working different schedules, and she was a very unusual person at that time,” Santorum said. “She was a professional who actually made more money than her husband.”

Clearly this was a deliberate change in strategy. Santorum’s advisers even spoke to the Washington Post about their plans to shift gears.

Rick Santorum does not plan to abandon the fiery Christian rhetoric or the shoestring campaign that got him to where he is today. But as a slate of high-stakes Republican presidential primaries approaches, he is being forced to shift his strategy to beat back perceptions that he is obsessed with controversial social issues and harbors outdated ideas about women.

The shift will test Santorum’s skills as a candidate as well as his bare-bones campaign operation, which is struggling to match his status as a top-tier candidate. The operation’s priority this week is to hold on to the candidate’s lead in polls in Ohio, which will vote on Tuesday.

Although Santorum sought to spin the Michigan results as a tie, it is clear that the contest revealed a significant challenge for him. He has been outspoken about contraception, abortion and his wife’s decision to leave her career as a lawyer to home-school their seven children….in at least three speeches in recent days, he has made appeals to women, recalling not only his wife’s career, but also that of his 93-year-old mother. On Wednesday, in Tennessee, he described his daughter Elizabeth as “one of the great women” in his life.

Santorum staffers also emphasized that there are women in senior positions in the campaign.

But as Rebecca Lawless, director of the Women and Politics Institute at American University told the Chicago Tribune, he “threw us a symbolic bone by saying, ‘Hey, I think my mom was great.’”

“It is one thing if it’s one statement, it’s another thing if it’s a broad range of statements that tap into the same problem and that’s where Rick Santorum finds himself,” Lawless says.

Not only is Santorum alienating women writ-large, she adds, but conservative women as well.

“In a lot of ways, the discussion about women’s roles and traditional family arrangements and the use of contraception have taken us back many, many decades,” Lawless says.

Despite his campaign’s recognition of the problem, it may not be possible to right the ship, she adds.

I honestly didn’t think Santorum could carry this off, because he just can’t seem to stop himself from lecturing us all about his 13th century ideas about women’s roles. And it looks like I was right. Santorum appeared on two of the Sunday morning shows and failed to steer the discussion away from social issues or reach out to women in any way.

On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace asked Santorum about the defeat of the Blunt amendment, and the former senator actually used the words “grievous moral wrong” in reference to contraception.

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum says an amendment put forward by Senate Republicans that would have allowed any business to exclude contraceptives from health care plans was not really about birth control.

“The Blunt amendment was broader than that,” Santorum told Fox News host Chris Wallace on Sunday. “It was a conscience clause exception that existed prior to when President Obama decided that he could impose his values on people of faith, when people of faith believe that this is a grievous moral wrong.”

Wallace asked Santorum if he truly believed that 99% of American women have “done something wrong.”

“I’m reflecting the views of the Church that I believe in,” the former Pennsylvania senator replied. “We used to be tolerant of those beliefs. I guess now when you have beliefs that are consistent with the church, you are somehow out of touch with the mainstream. And that to me is a pretty sad situation when you can’t have personally-held beliefs.”

Although Santorum recently has been claiming that he doesn’t plan to impose his 19th century views on the rest of us, it’s important to keep in mind that he said in an October 2011 interview with a religious blog, Caffeinated Thoughts, that he would “repeal all federal funding for contraception.” In addition, he has repeatedly said that he does not believe in separation of church and state.

On Chris Matthews’ show Santorum apparently sidestepped a question about Rush Limbaugh and repeated much of what he had told Chris Wallace at Fox.

Right now, Santorum and Romney are “neck and neck” in Ohio. How will Ohio women vote after a couple more days of being preached at by true believer Rick Santorum? My guess is women’s votes will decide Ohio just as they did Michigan.

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21 Comments on “Rick Santorum and Women Voters”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Is it possible that Santorum resented his mother’s career and the fact that she earned more than his father? There is something wrong with Rick that must trace back to his childhood. He’s a very angry man.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if he had some experiences with abusive priest. There was certainly a lot of them around the churches he went to when he was a child.

      • SophieCT says:

        My current theory as well. Perhaps a stay-at-home mom would have picked up on this but the professional mom did not. Idunno.

        The real scary part for me is that despite him his having lost to Romney in all of those demographic categories, he walked away with half of the delegates.

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        Yeah Sophie, he is still a threat…

    • My thought exactly as I read the quote.

      Also, that his wife had to give up chose to give up her law career to home school their 7 children. Why her and not him, or each working part-time and home-schooling part-time?

      • bostonboomer says:

        Hey, it’s great to see you!

        Karen Santorum actually did work while she was at home with the kids. She had a somewhat questionable job earning quite a bit of money ($4,000/mo.) for several years from the media company that handles Santorum’s advertising.

        http://www.tnr.com/blog/the-stump/100791/in-the-matter-mrs-santorum

        Basically, both Rick and Karen are hypocrites, but that won’t stop them from instituting Christian “Sharia Law.”

  2. Minkoff Minx says:

    … former senator actually used the words “grievous moral wrong” in reference to contraception.

    This is ridiculous. He’s got mental problems.

    • Woman Voter says:

      Why don’t they say that about Viagra and other ED medications, that is a straight POINT (pun intended here as a fact of what the meds do), where as the pill is used for various medical conditions and doesn’t arouse. Hypocrites I say!

  3. dakinikat says:

    Santorum should wants sainthood. He loves to play the persecuted martyr.

  4. jan says:

    agreed, the man has a mental problem of some sort. I still believe he is one of those who resents having a handicapped child and is taking it out on others. The grievous moral wrong here is that he doesn’t see what a blessing that little girl is. Read Edgar Cayce on the subject.

  5. NW Luna says:

    …has repeatedly said that he does not believe in separation of church and state.

    Scarey. This guy is so wacko.

  6. DailyPUMA says:

    The Republicans would rather lose the presidency in 2012 than shine a light back on 2008 and remind the populace how a tremendous female presidential candidate was wronged by her own party and the media.

    • dakinikat says:

      The republicans hate the Clintons and were awful to Hillary when she was first lady. I have no idea why you would think that would even be on their radar. Hillary stands for everything they find wrong with the modern world and her success now is linked to her position in Obama’s cabinet.

      • DailyPUMA says:

        But the point remains, the republicans would rather lose the 2012 presidency even if they could win it by reminding the american people that Hillary Clinton was victimized by her own party in 2008.

      • bostonboomer says:

        How could the Republicans win the presidency by “reminding the american people that Hillary Clinton was victimized by her own party in 2008.” That makes no sense whatsoever.

        Why would Republicans even care, and how would it help them? Obviously, what happened in 2008 is completely irrelevant to them and it wouldn’t help them to talk about it. That’s just a very strange suggestion. Furthermore, we at Sky Dancing have no influence on Republican attitudes.

        You really need to get over 2008 and move on. The reality is that Hillary is part of the Obama administration and she supports his policies. She has let go of any resentment she may ever have felt. You need to do that too.

        • DailyPUMA says:

          The Republicans are going to lose to Obama because of the female vote. The republicans inability to paint a female democratic political candidate in a positive light, one who deserved a better fate than she got in 2008, would have gone a long long way towards attracting women voters to vote republican this time around.

          The fact that the republican candidate’s hate for the Clintons will be the determining factor in their not winning the presidency in 2012 is poetic justice. As for moving on, how dare you flower over what happened in 2008.

          The democratic scums that pulled what they pulled in 2008 ARE STILL IN POWER, and you are their enablers. What Pelosi did was criminal.

          • dakinikat says:

            No self respecting woman will vote for any of those republican presidential candidates. One of the Democrats in power is Hillary Clinton. She has far more power than Pelosi too. Most of the women here who won’t vote for Obama are voting Green Party. No way any of them will pull the lever for the party of kill women’s rights.

          • dakinikat says:

            Forget about winning the White House this year, conservative stalwart George Will counsels his fellow Republicans in a Washington Post column. Neither Mitt Romney nor Rick Santorum “seems likely to be elected,” so “taking stock of reality,” Republicans should turn to the “much more attainable” goals of retaining control of the House and winning a majority in the Senate.

            http://theweek.com/article/index/225184/should-the-gop-give-up-on-winning-the-white-house

      • dakinikat says:

        I can’t imagine that accomplishing anything because only a few thousand people at most care. A handful of people may be obsessed with that still and they’ll do what they please any way. From what I can see, a lot went to blindly worshiping Sarah Palin so no amount of logical appeal will reach them for anything any way. Besides, nothing any Republican does at this point will get me to vote for any of them for the presidency and I’m even aware of all that. Next to no one cares about that any more. It’s 2012. No critical mass cared in 2008. I’m not voting for the US to become the New Confederacy on ancient history. I’ll vote for Obama over any of the Republicans any day of the week. My daughters have functional vaginas and one’s an Ob/Gyn. I want them to have a future that doesn’t involve forced pregnancies.

    • bostonboomer says:

      We aren’t anyone’s enablers. You need to cool it. We don’t permit rudeness and personal attacks at Sky Dancing.