As reported in today's New York Times, Mitt Romney's former deputy campaign manager is opening a new consulting firm to help the GOP court women voters. The new consultancy "appears to be the first Republican firm aimed specially at wooing female voters," the Times reports. I just checked my calendar and it appears to be 2013. Welcome to the party, GOP. You have a lot of work ahead of you.
As we made clear last week in this analysis of the Virginia gubernatorial election, Republicans lately have been doing a miserable job connecting with women -- and particularly with unmarried women. In the Virginia race, Democrat Terry McAuliffe won the women vote by 9 points over his Republican rival Ken Cuccinelli. A healthy advantage but not too startling. But buried in the exit polls was a stunning figure: McAuliffe won the vote of unmarried women in Virginia by an overwhelming 42 percentage points. And it's no fluke. Republicans have been losing the votes of unmarried women in Virginia by ever-increasing margins. In 2009, unmarried women voted for the Democratic candidate for governor by a margin of 6 percent. In last year's presidential race, unmarried women in Virginia supported President Obama by 29 percent. And now that margin is up to 42 percentage points.
But even as they open new women-courting consulting firms and issue post-campaign "autopsies" that promise to do better by women, leading Republican figures keep compounding their problems. Example A, Rush Limbaugh.
This past week, as the Virginia exit polls rolled in, Limbaugh took to the radio to call Democratic women "nothing but abortion machines." A day later, he declared that unmarried women are daft, promiscuous wards of the state just looking for a government handout. According to Limbaugh's own transcript, he said:
--"Unmarried women are looking at government for everything."
--"Obamacare is a giant goody bag for unmarried women."
--"Basically Obamacare and the entire Democrat agenda basically says to unmarried women, ' "You are discriminated against, you're treated unfairly, you get taken advantage of, you don't get any relationships. Nobody loves you. You end up having babies that you can't support. The dreaded fathers are never around; they walk out on you. They don't pay their child support; we will. They don't pay your prenatal, your postnatal; we will." '
--"Single mothers, single women don't need men, don't need a husband, the government will do that for 'em."
It's hard to know where to start when confronting such ignorance.
The coalition of unmarried women who voted for McAuliffe in Virginia include women who are single, divorced, separated or widowed. They are young college students proudly voting for the first time. Working moms who want better jobs and more opportunities for their children. And widowed grandmothers who suddenly find themselves living alone. These are the unmarried women Limbaugh so despises. And, ironically, these are the very women that the Republican Party needs to attract to win national elections.