Sensing an Opening, Newt Makes His Pitch to the Ladies

Could Newt Gingrich, of all people, think he's got an opportunity with Republican women?

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Could Newt Gingrich, of all people, think he's got an opportunity with Republican women? Gingrich, the guy who's on his third wife? A guy who his second wife claims asked for an open marriage? Yeah, same guy.

Gingrich has faced a gender gap for some time -- men like him better than women -- but his campaign has created a "Women With Newt" group featuring testimonials from his daughters. It's not as crazy as it sounds, but the evidence is still mixed.

Rick Santorum, who replaced Gingrich as the biggest threat to Mitt Romney, is now facing what looks like a small gender gap. Santorum lost Tuesday night in "due in large part to his weakness among Michigan women," The Daily Beast's Patricia Murphy argues. "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." But if you look at the exit polls, Santorum got 38 percent of both male and female voters. So it's probably more right to say that Romney lost a chunk of the male vote to Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, whose gender gap skewing toward men adds up to 6 points.
On the other hand, if you look at the exit polls from all of the big primary votes so far, Santorum has lost the advantage he once had with women:
  • Iowa: Santorum got 27 percent of women, 23 percent of men.
  • New Hampshire: 11 percent of women, 8 percent of men.
  • South Carolina: 20 percent of women, 14 percent of men.
  • Florida: 13 percent for both men and women.
  • Nevada: 12 percent of women, 9 percent of men.
  • Arizona: 32 percent of women, 21 percent of men.
It's hard to say whether women like Santorum more when they get to know him. Nationally, Republican women like him better than they did a month ago, according to a poll released last week. But Michigan, where he was campaigning a lot the last two weeks, women started liking him less. In Arizona, which he mostly ignored, Santorum got a ton of female voters. But it's hard to argue that women like him if they don't know anything about him, because Santorum mostly skipped Florida, too, and there he polled the same among men and women.
Despite the mixed data, Santorum's campaign appears to be nervous about offending the ladies, ABC News' Shushannah Walshe notices, with the frenzy over his contraception and prenatal testing and working moms talk. In his concession speech Tuesday night, Santorum talked a lot about his grandmother, noting she was "a professional who made more money than her husband." He noted his wife had been a "professional," too, and then went the extra mile, hailing "men and women who signed" the Declaration of Independence. As Walshe points out, no women signed the Declaration of Independence.
Does Gingrich have a chance to poach some female voters from Santorum? The "Women With Newt" video doesn't mention social issues, but it makes it seem like he's going to try. His daughter, Jackie Gingrich Cushman, does say Gingrich understands economic decisions are made by "female entrepreneurs and women at home." Kathy Gingrich Lubbers talks about how he helped her start her business. Newt "wants you to be with him, not for him," Lubbers adds. On the other hand, this "coalition" of Newt's kind of reminds us of another last-minute women's group, "Women for Cain."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.