Women could decide the 2012 presidential election. Lindsay Ferrier, election correspondent for CafeMom says, “Moms, particularly the kinds of moms who frequently shop at discount superstores like Walmart…are expected to be a pivotal block of swing voters in the November election—and this news has the presidential candidates sitting up and taking notice.”
They sure are taking notice. Recent headlines are proof of that:
Fox News: “GOP, Obama fight to win over female voters.”
Huffington Post: “Single Women Voters: Democrats and Republicans Woo Unmarried Ladies.”
Politico: “White House targeting women voters, also.”
WCTV: “Appealing to Women Voters is Key for GOP.”
Columbia Herald: “Election outcome is in women voter’s hands.”
Courting women is always a smart strategy because more women than men have voted in every presidential election since 1964. In 2008, 54 percent of the votes cast in the presidential election were cast by women. This equates to some seven million more votes cast by women than men, making them a key voting constituency.
Not only do women vote in high numbers, but they also make up a majority of the late deciders, or what is often called the “crucial swing vote.” Fox News quotes political analyst Tony Sayegh as saying, “Women are the ultimate swing voter. They’re less ideologically rigid and they make very pragmatic decisions when it comes to who to vote for.”
According to USA Today’s 2012 election coverage, the key issues at stake in the upcoming elections are health care, gas prices, unemployment, the national debt, international issues and reproductive rights. All of these issues hang in the balance as the results of the upcoming election will have short-term and also long-term ramifications.
Health care costs and accessibility is crucially important to women for themselves and their families. There is little argument that healthcare costs are skyrocketing and this dramatically affects the wellness of women and children as well as the cost of living. In fact, the financial toll is so high that half of all bankruptcies are related to medical expenses. Health care reform is urgently needed and this election is likely to determine the country’s long-term approach to healthcare access, quality and affordability.
Surging, record high gas prices are hitting pocketbooks hard. For working women, higher gas prices effectively results in a lower paycheck. Women are forced to cut back on discretionary activities like daytrips to the zoo with their children, opting to stay closer to home. Unfortunately, the price of everything from airfares to groceries goes up along with gas prices. For this reason people cannot escape the effects of high gas prices by simply changing their driving habits. The cause of high gas prices is complicated, multi-faceted and often disagreed upon; some argue that there is little the president can do to lower gas prices, but analysts agree that this issue will sway voters in the voting booth.
Over the past few years women have faced shrinking wages, unemployment lines, foreclosures, bankruptcies, lost dreams, lost college funds and dwindling retirement funds. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 12.7 million unemployed people in America. These are women, as well as their husbands, fathers, sons and children. According to the National Women’s Law Center, “Women of color and single mothers have experienced their highest level of unemployment in decades.” They also assert that out of the 1.4 million jobs added between June 2009 and December 2011, women only gained a small fraction of net jobs. The high unemployment rate has been devastating for women and their families, in some cases setting them back decades financially.
Each U.S. citizen’s personal share of the U.S. national debt is now over $50,000. The national debt has increased an average of four billion dollars a day over the last several years. Rising debt can lead to a slowing economy and ultimately higher interest rates. The results include unemployment and higher expense to take on a mortgage or car loan. There is general agreement that there is an urgent need to identify a long-term path to economic prosperity, stabilize the national debt and preserve important government services. Just how exactly to do that is up for debate. How we handle the national debt will have a dramatic effect on our children and grandchildren for generations to come.
National security, from the size of the defense department to countering cyber warfare attacks, continues to be a primary concern for women. The timetable in place for winding down the war in Afghanistan is controversial. North Korea is posturing as they plan to launch a long-range missile and tension is palpable with Russia over U.S. plans to build a missile defense shield in Europe. Looming large is the alarming threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. As Iran races towards nuclear armament, Israel is openly considering targeting Iran’s nuclear program militarily. Then there are other countries to keep an eye on from Syria to Venezuela. In these contentious times women want their families to be safe.
Women have unique reproductive needs including contraception, prenatal-care and labor and delivery, and other related health services. This is a particular issue that the president has significant authority to influence. For example, the president has the responsibility of nominating Supreme Court justices. Since this is a lifetime appointment, moving the court to the right or left will have ramifications for decades to come. Presidents are able to use executive orders to restrict or broaden federal funding for abortion. This is something many presidents do immediately upon taking office. Also having veto power over bills, the president is uniquely empowered to affect reproductive rights.
The 2012 presidential election is anticipated to be one of the most critical and pivotal in recent history. Christian women have the opportunity to be a powerful force, but to capitalize on this they must be engaged, informed and participating.
Women, your vote will count more than ever in 2012!