Remember All That Talk about a Gender Gap?

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on October 16, 2012

Dismiss it:

Mitt Romney leads President Obama by four percentage points among likely voters in the nation’s top battlegrounds, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, and he has growing enthusiasm among women to thank.

As the presidential campaign heads into its final weeks, the survey of voters in 12 crucial swing states finds female voters much more engaged in the election and increasingly concerned about the deficit and debt issues that favor Romney. The Republican nominee has pulled within one point of the president among women who are likely voters, 48%-49%, and leads by 8 points among men.

The battle for women, which was apparent in the speakers spotlighted at both political conventions this summer, is likely to help define messages the candidates deliver at the presidential debate Tuesday night and in the TV ads they air during the final 21 days of the campaign. As a group, women tend to start paying attention to election contests later and remain more open to persuasion by the candidates and their ads.

That makes women, especially blue-collar “waitress moms” whose families have been hard-hit by the nation’s economic woes, the quintessential swing voters in 2012′s close race.

“In every poll, we’ve seen a major surge among women in favorability for Romney” since his strong performance in the first debate, veteran Democratic pollster Celinda Lake says. “Women went into the debate actively disliking Romney, and they came out thinking he might understand their lives and might be able to get something done for them.”

This is, of course, a stunning development–one that bodes very badly for Team Obama. There once was a time when the president had all of the momentum, and the Romney campaign was back on its heels. How times have changed.

It is still possible for the Obama campaign to get the momentum back–this race is not over and under no circumstances should the president be counted out at this stage. But the country appears to be moving towards a verdict regarding Barack Obama’s performance in office, and unless the president is able to change something quickly, that verdict will come out against a second term. The president ought to be worried; his best chance to establish a narrative was in the first debate against Mitt Romney, and he failed. The second debate is a town hall discussion which allows for little negativity and the third debate is about foreign policy–while most Americans are still concerned about the economy. I am sure that the press is looking for yet another reason and yet another way to write a comeback story regarding the president and the Obama campaign. But it may be getting harder and harder to actually be able to write that story.

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