Abortion made a difference to women voters



Abortion rights are a big deal to women.

They may even be a key reason women vote for a candidate. According to some observations, abortion rights played heavily into this election cycle, despite predictions that no one cared about anything but the economy.

Check this press release from Planned Parenthood:

Overlooked amid all the postmortems about the 2010 election is the fact that women voters provided the margin of victory where Democratic candidates were able to win close races, and they did that because Democratic candidates campaigned on an issue women care about deeply: protecting abortion rights.

In a tough year dominated by the economy, Democratic candidates in winning races widened the gender gap by highlighting their pro-choice credentials, as well as their opponent’s extreme anti-choice positions.

To put a fine point on it, in nationwide exit polling, Democrats lost the women’s vote by just one percent. But in several key statewide races in which the Democratic candidate highlighted their pro-choice credentials and won, the gender gap was significantly larger, typically double digits.

In a number of statewide races in which women delivered a significant margin, candidates and independent organizations made choice part of the winning argument, inserting it into debates, focusing on it in paid TV ads, and hammering it home in mail brochures and phone calls targeted at women voters. In each case, the Democratic candidates were on the offensive, touting their pro-choice credentials and/or highlighting their opponent’s extreme anti-choice stance.

Here is a look at key statewide races, both Senate and gubernatorial, where the candidates emphasized choice in their campaigns. Also highlighted are independent campaigns undertaken by Planned Parenthood advocacy and political organizations:

In the Colorado Senate race, Michael Bennet won the women’s vote by 17 points.

How choice was used in the campaign:
o The DSCC ran a TV ad in CO highlighting Buck’s extreme views on abortion.

o The Bennet campaign ran two TV ads on choice.

o The Planned Parenthood Action Fund sent mail brochures to 156,000 independent women voters on choice issue.

In the Washington Senate race, Patty Murray won the women’s vote by 12 points.

How choice was used in the campaign:
o The DSCC ran a TV ad on choice:

o The Murray campaign ran a TV ad on choice:

o Planned Parenthood Votes Washington and Emily’s List sent mail brochures to 440,000 independent women voters on choice issue.

In the California Senate race, Barbara Boxer won the women’s vote by 16 points.

How choice was used in the campaign:
o The Boxer campaign ran a TV ad on choice:

o Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California sent mail brochures to 65,000 independent women voters on choice issue.

In the Oregon governor’s race, John Kitzhaber won the women’s vote by 26 points.

How choice was used in the campaign:
o The Kitzhaber campaign ran a TV ad on choice:

In the Vermont governor’s race, Peter Shumlin won the women’s vote by 7 points

How choice was used in the campaign:
o The Shumlin campaign ran a TV ad touting his pro-choice credentials:

o Planned Parenthood of Northern New England Action Fund ran a TV ad on choice in the Vermont governor’s race:

As the Wall Street Journal put it last week: “Pollsters say abortion is a particularly effective issue. Unlike the economy, where positions are sometimes hard to distinguish, abortion can present a clear delineation between candidates. And, pollsters say, a candidate's abortion position can serve as a signal as to whether he or she shares a voter's values more generally.”

One overlooked takeaway from Tuesday’s election results is that the abortion issue helped the Democratic candidates when they made it an issue. In those races where choice was affirmatively used in paid communications, the Democratic candidate was able to increase his/her margins with women voters and win their race.

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