Everybody knows Obama is just killing the Republicans with this “War on Women” stuff, right? Panicked female voters are stampeding into the waiting arms of the Left, their ears still burning with the harsh words Rush Limbaugh deployed against the sainted Sandra Fluke. Liberals had but to chant the magic phrase “Republicans want to ban contraceptives,” and the 2012 election was over.
But that’s not what is happening. Obama has absolutely cratered in the polls over the last couple of weeks… and he’s slipping among women. Say it with me once again: liberals are losing this battle.
Even as reporters were feverishly scribbling columns about how “the fragile gains Republicans had been making among female voters have been erased” by the contraception battle, the Washington Post and ABC News produced polls that showed Obama’s approval rating falling 3 points among female voters (and 6 points among men.)
Then CBS News and the New York Times released an even worse presidential approval poll on Monday, in which “President Obama’s approval rating has hit the lowest level ever in CBS News polling.” His approve-disapprove numbers stood at 41-47 in this poll. He was at 50-41 just a month ago.
In the CBS poll, Obama’s approval rating among women dropped 12 percent.
Now, to be clear, opinion polls are finicky beasts. Obama hitting rock bottom now doesn’t mean he’s doomed in November, any more than a spread of good polls would make him a shoo-in. A great deal of his poll slide is due to Obama’s general failure as President, most especially reflected in rising gas prices. I suspect his feeble excuses for this are only hurting him more. If there’s one thing voters really dislike, it’s the image of a hapless, out-of-touch chief executive. Obama radiates that image with everything he says, does, and doesn’t do.
But it’s pretty clear from these polls that the media mythology of a triumphant Left riding its insulting “War on Women” narrative to victory is nonsense. At best, the Democrats have milked this thing for a virtually undetectable pause in Obama’s general polling slide, and even that modest benefit is highly debatable.
We’re actually dealing with three separate issues here, which liberals have been desperate to conflate. Originally, we had the questions of religious and economic liberty surrounding ObamaCare’s contraception mandate. That was a horrific disaster for the Democrats, with damage rapidly spreading beyond the (very important) Catholic vote.
Their awareness of how badly this was going for them led to the Sandra Fluke affair – which, if you’ll recall, originally involved trying to shoe-horn Fluke into congressional testimony as a last-minute substitution, replacing a carefully vetted guest with a leftist agitator and her phony propaganda. It didn’t work, so the Democrats staged a fake congressional hearing to push Fluke’s nonsense about helpless co-eds bankrupted by $3000 birth control bills into the media.
That wasn’t working either, so at the exact moment people were scratching their heads and wondering where the numbers in Fluke’s fanciful “study” came from, panicked liberals seized on Rush Limbaugh’s use of the word “slut” to change the subject to media misogyny. The new narrative promptly blew up in their faces with atomic force, as the legion of conservative women who endured far, far worse at the hands of liberal media figures raised their voices. The long-term damage from this is likely to be significant for the Left, which really can’t afford to make do without the venom it routinely spews against “renegade” members of certain identity groups.
The third issue, the one Democrats really want to talk about, is the notion of banning contraceptives – i.e. The Argument Absolutely No One Is Making. Even presidential candidate Rick Santorum has loudly and repeatedly stated he has no intention of doing any such thing, although he wants to discuss the negative social effects of widespread birth control. As Santorum noted with devastating effect, liberals incorrectly assume that everyone else wants to outlaw everything they criticize.
The “ban contraceptives” talking point was conjured from thin air by Democrats, and since no one is actually making the demands they have declared themselves passionately opposed to, it’s not getting them very far. They would do roughly as well by declaring their fervent opposition to eating puppies.
Women are not a panicky herd that automatically runs in the desired direction at the sound of loud, meaningless noises. Even the Democrats’ immense advantage in media power could only bring the contraception straw man to life for a couple of days at best. There are too many real problems in Barack Obama’s America for both men and women to worry about.