Why Are Women Ditching Democrats?

The party's coalition crumbles as Catholics and the working class also flee

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The Democratic coalition is crumbling, with women, Catholics, and the working class no longer favoring the party, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll. If more women vote for Republicans than Democrats November 2, it will be for the first time since exit polls began measuring the gender split in 1982. The poll shows just how upset Americans are with the government: 57 percent of registered voters say they'd back a candidate with little experience, and 25 percent said they'd vote for someone whose positions "seem extreme."

But just what they want politicians to do about it remains unclear. Nearly 90 percent are worried about government spending, and half want fewer government programs, but when it comes to picking which ones to cut, voters seem to throw up their hands. They don't want to raise the retirement age or cut Social Security benefits, and fewer support raising taxes on those making salaries higher than $250,000 than did earlier this year. And by a small margin--45 percent to 41 percent--more voters favor keeping the new health care law than want it repealed.

  • Obama Lost Conservatives, Not the Base, Robert Farley argues at Lawyers, Guns & Money. "While failure of outreach to his base may have been a significant strategic error for the Obama administration, that's not really the message of this poll... To be clear, 'base' does not equal 'everyone who voted for Obama in 2008.' Base, by any reasonable definition, is a subset of that total; politicians win by motivating their base in addition to chipping off bits and pieces of the opponent’s coalition, as well as by winning the very small sliver of genuine independents.  According to the poll, as far as I can tell, the losses from the Obama coalition include two of the most conservative segments...as well as women, and I’d argue that the latter is too large and diverse a category to be appropriately termed part of the 'base.'"
  • Blame Obama's Bumbling, Taylor Marsh says. "Women. Obama and the Democrats may lose women. Even the possibility proves Pelosi and Obama's kowtowing to Bart Stupak was monumentally stupid, as was worrying about some foreign money 'stealing' the election when you're too busy throwing it." Obama's incompetence is on full display with his failure to endorse Frank Caprio, who could have won the Rhode Island governor's race for Democrats if the president hadn't opted for Lincoln Chafee instead, Marsh explains.  "So, if you want to know why Barack Obama is having sudden progressive blogger meetings it's not because he has any renewed respect for anyone. Pres. Obama can show he gives a crap about 'the professional left,' while being able to opine without getting tough questions. (Mr. Gibbs looks like a genius now, doesn’t he.)"
  • Midterms Are a Referendum on Obama, The Hill's Ian Swanson reports. "A majority of voters see the midterm election as a referendum on Barack Obama, but most have not decided whether they’ll vote against the president in 2012. ... The results point to a paradox of the 2010 election: While it is clear voters worried about government spending and record deficits want to put a brake on the Obama administration, they do not appear to have given up on the president." They want him to move to the center.
  • That Was Fast, Jennifer Rubin observes at Contentions. Rubin writes, "for the Times poll, which a savvy Democratic pundit confided to me does indeed historically 'tip Democratic,' the numbers are horrible for the Democrats." Obama's approval rating is 43 percent; Nancy Pelosi has become a huge liability. "Obama has managed to lose his own standing, take his party down with him, and convince core Democratic constituencies to vote Republican. And it took him only two years."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.