WASHINGTON -- EMILY’s List, the group that works to elect pro-choice Democratic women to Congress, wants to take Republicans back to school.
The group launched a new campaign Thursday that highlights the GOP's struggle to connect with women voters. Titled "GOP Summer School," the campaign will include lessons, case studies and a curriculum centered on outreach to women. The group is also posting online advertisements that target women activists on social media and online news sites like Jezebel, Cosmopolitan and Refinery 29.
Democrats have sought this year to revive the so-called War on Women strategy, which worked against Republicans in 2012, by focusing on issues like the gender pay gap and access to abortion. In at least 10 races Democratic women are challenging male House Republican incumbents. EMILY's List is backing 42 female candidates at the federal and gubernatorial level this year, and is supporting several high-profile campaigns, such as those of Wendy Davis for Texas governor, Alison Lundergan Grimes for Kentucky's U.S. Senate seat, and the re-election bids of Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.) and Kay Hagan (N.C.).
The GOP has tried to fight the perception that it is out of touch with women voters, and has engaged its candidates in sensitivity trainings following the 2012 election, when several Republican candidates lost in part due to comments they made about rape. But recent polling has shown that a majority of women still believe the Republican Party doesn't understand their problems.
EMILY's List communications director Jess McIntosh said that as part of its new campaign, the group hopes to underscore that the Republican message still isn't resonating with women voters because they refuse to change their policies.
"After more than a year of sensitivity trainings and classes on how not to offend women, it's clear the Republican rebranding effort is a fail," McIntosh said in a statement. "The problem is that no matter how quickly Republicans cram and review their own substance-free PR tactics, their actual agenda gives them very little to work with. From blocking women's access to health care and birth control to working against equal pay for women to opposing an increase in the minimum wage, Republicans are totally out of step with American women."
To further its point, the group is also reminding voters of more recent comments by Republicans, several of whom made headlines during the debate over equal pay. Among them are the head of a Republican political action committee who said women are too "busy" to focus on equal pay, and a Texas GOP chief who suggested that men are better negotiators.
The campaign comes a week after the Supreme Court's ruling that gave certain profit-making corporations the ability to deny employees federally mandated birth control coverage. Congressional Democrats are pushing a legislative fix to reverse the decision and see an opportunity to capitalize on the GOP's support of the ruling.