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House GOP Disapproval Opens Doors For Women Candidates In 2014

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TOM LATHAM
Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) is one of 17 House Republicans that are trailing their Democratic challengers in the polls since the government shutdown. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) | Getty

As Republican congressmen take the brunt of the blame for the government shutdown, a group of female challengers to ten of the most vulnerable GOP incumbents hopes to tip control of the House toward the Democrats in 2014.

A poll released on Sunday showed that Republicans are in grave danger of losing their majority in the House in 2014 as a result of their handling of the shutdown, and they are taking a beating in the headlines from their districts.

A columnist wrote in the Des Moines Register that Rep. Tom Latham (R) should "ignore the unfounded claims and stubbornness of Republicans" and "listen to his own advice" from this summer -- which was that a shutdown would be irresponsible. "House Republicans, including Iowa’s Tom Latham, have dug in their heels and refuse to reopen the government without repealing or delaying the Affordable Care Act,” the Register noted.

Latham is being challenged by Democratic candidate Staci Appel in 2014, and Sunday's poll from liberal-leaning Public Policy Polling shows her pulling ahead of him.

A headline in the Nevada View analyzed Rep. Joe Heck's (R) "Fallout from Shutting Down Government." He is also trailing his Democratic opponent, Erin Bilbray, according to the new poll.

EMILY's List, a group dedicated to electing Democratic women to office, is capitalizing on this moment of deep public disapproval to replace Republican congressmen with women. The group is backing ten women candidates in the 21 congressional districts that are the most vulnerable in 2014-- IA-03, NV-03, IL-13, FL-02, CA-31, NY-23, MI-07, FL-13, KY-06, and VA-02. The group's own polling from May shows that voters believe women are more likely than men to be able to cut through the partisan bickering and put families ahead of politics.

“Imagine replacing the guys responsible for all this gridlock and double speak with Democratic women who are actually running to get things done for the families in their communities," said Jess McIntosh, a spokesperson for EMILY's List. "It’s a real possibility – we have very strong women running great races all over the country, and voters who are looking for a new approach."

Andrea Bozek, a spokesperson for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said she is not worried that Democrats will win control of the House. “Clearly Democrats are in panic over President Obama’s shutdown if they are now releasing botched polls based on imaginary registration breakdowns,” she told The Huffington Post.

But the government shutdown is not Republicans' only problem with voters ahead of 2014. The National Journal reported last week that only 14 percent of women across the country believe that the Republican party has moved closer to representing their views since the 2012 election, when President Obama and several Democrats in Congress won thanks to a massive gender gap.

Since November 2012, House Republicans passed a bill that would ban abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy, violating the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe V. Wade decision. And they slipped a provision into their federal spending bill last month that would allow employers to refuse to cover birth control and other preventative care for women in their health insurance plans.

"Republicans lost big to EMILY’s List candidates in 2012 by alienating women voters," McIntosh said, "and the GOP seems to be trying even harder to make women angry this cycle.”

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