10/11/2012 05:14 pm ET Updated Dec 11, 2012

Republicans Alienate Women on Abortion, Role of Government

With Mitt Romney's latest double-talk on abortion and Obama's post-debate slump, women are again in the news. Some conflate a discussion about women voters with a discussion about abortion. And the right often argues that women will vote based on the economy, not abortion. Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway reminded us a few months ago that no poll has shown abortion to be a top-tier concern for women, and so a battle for women voters should be more expansive.

I agree there is far more to earning women's votes than checking a box on abortion. And abortion does take a backseat to the economy and jobs. Nonetheless, the Republican position costs them support, as abortion is far more important to women than men. In September, Pew showed abortion to be the issue with the largest gender difference in importance. And this Pew poll shows nearly half of women say it will be "very important" to their vote this year. They are also even more likely than men to favor Obama on this issue.

This also means the right finds itself increasingly on the wrong side of public opinion on the role of government. In a Gallup poll from yesterday, a majority now say "the government should not favor any particular set of values" as opposed to "promote traditional values." (With majorities of white voters and independents agreeing, according to crosstabs Gallup kindly provided.) CNN found something similar. The current CNN and Gallup figures are new highs for a question tracked since 1993.

This, perhaps, coincides with Pew's recent finding that more Americans have no religious affiliation than ever before. This unaffiliated group is overwhelmingly pro-choice (72 percent). They are also twice as likely as the public overall to believe "religion losing its influence on American life" to be a good thing.

Republican Senator Lindsay Graham (SC) worried that "we're not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business in the long term." Nothing highlights this more than Romney and Ryan's inconsistent and increasingly marginal views on abortion.