Just days ago, Nate Silver wrote in the New York Times that "if only women voted, President Obama would be on track for a landslide re-election, equaling or exceeding his margin of victory over Senator John McCain in 2008." Today, a new Associated Press-GfK poll, cited by CBS News, indicates that that gender gap is "all but gone": "Republican Mitt Romney has erased President Obama's 16-point advantage among women ... And the president, in turn, has largely eliminated Romney's edge among men." As we reach the final days in the lead-up to the presidential election, things are changing and a bit whiplash-inducing. But one thing is constant: The attention to and pressure for each presidential candidate to win that undecided swing voter, particularly those in key states.
So who is this person, or, specifically, who is the female swing voter? We've talked about it before, in various terms. Earlier this month, a piece in Reuters named the many catchphrases being used to indicate her, none of them, as our Esther Zuckerman pointed out, all that flattering. But trying to generically identify a person based on her shopping habits ("Walmart mom") or car preferences ("minivan mom") or job ("waitress mom") or kids' activities ("soccer mom") or coffee preference ("Starbucks mom") never is, really. Today in a New York Times piece by Katharine Q. Seelye comes further clarification on our coveted, undecided female swing voter, the "waitress mom." Seelye adds, "Not all waitress moms are waitresses, of course, nor are they all mothers." Here's what we learn about who she is.
- This woman may have voted for Barack Obama in 2008 but now, feeling he hasn't lived up to his promise, is not sure she'll give him her vote this election year.
- Still, "she is not thrilled with Mitt Romney either. She said he would set women back because he did not understand their needs."
- "She has slipped a rung or two down the economic ladder from the soccer moms of the more prosperous 1990s, as indicated by her new nickname —waitress mom. Rather than ferrying children around the suburbs in minivans, she is spinning in the hamster wheel of a tight economy and not getting ahead."
- The whole idea of the "waitress mom" as a voting bloc, like "soccer moms" and "security moms" may be a myth, in any case.
- Regardless, this catchphrase "defines a distinct demographic: blue-collar white women who did not attend college." Many have still not decided, though they often lean Republican. Seeyle writes, "About 9 percent of all voters in 2008 were white women without college degrees who had an annual household income of less than $50,000, according to exit polls."