Reince Is Right: The GOP's Problem Isn't Women
Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus argued on Tuesday that his party doesn't have a problem with female voters. And he's right. Its problem continues to be with black and Latino voters.
At a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus argued that his party doesn't have a problem with female voters. And he's right. Its problem continues to be with black and Latino voters. (Many of whom are women.)
Priebus called claims that the GOP couldn't attract female voters "a little bit of a laziness." The problem isn't women, he said. "We basically have a single women problem under 35 issue." He offered an opposing question: "Why does the Democratic Party have so many problems in their engagement with married women, or women with children?" His point is that subsets of female voters strongly support Republicans over Democrats, something he perhaps gleaned from the party's new data tools.
The lazy analysis that Priebus chides was thoroughly detailed by The Wall Street Journal on Monday. Overall, women would prefer a Democratically-controlled Congress by just under ten percentage points. Women are more optimistic about the economy; women are more likely to support an increase to the minimum wage. This is why Democratic candidates have been focusing on appeals to female voters as the mid-terms approach. (For example, from the article: "In North Carolina, Sen. Kay Hagan's campaign contends that a potential GOP rival, state Rep. Thom Tillis, offers 'an insult to women' by opposing a higher minimum wage.") In a low-turnout election, the Democrats can use all the help they can get.
But again, Priebus has a point. As the Journal notes, white women would prefer a Republican-led Congress by about five percentage points. That's according to aggregated data from WSJ/NBC News poll.
The racial disparity exists in other data sets, too. Earlier this month, the Democratically-aligned firm Public Policy Polling did a national poll looking at attitudes on Congress as the 2014 election approaches. They were kind enough to share a breakdown of the data by gender with The Wire, which allowed us to make this graph.
While women are more likely to be unsure about which party they'd rather see control Congress, only white women would prefer that Congress be controlled by Republicans. You'll notice that white women are more ambivalent on the question than white men — preferring a GOP Congress by eight points versus 22 points for white men. But men are more partisan regardless of race. Latino and black men are 29 and 14 points more strongly favorable of Democrats than are Latino and black women.
This is only one poll, but it reinforces Priebus' argument — indirectly. Since the white population in America is larger than that of other races, increasing support from white women to get it near the levels seen by white men would make a substantial difference for Republicans. The problem Priebus and his party faces — the big problem — is all of those other columns. On the anniversary of the party's plan to engage minority voters, it's obvious that black and Latino support for Republican candidates is still low.
If Priebus could solve that problem, he wouldn't need those single women under the age of 35 at all.