Women seeing red in midterm elections, poised to help Republicans win big

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Women are the majority of U.S. voters. They have real power at the polls, deciding who represents us in Congress and the White House. With early voting in earnest and Election Day imminent, surveys make clear “what women really want.” 

Concerns over rising crime and rising costs, challenges to their role as parents, threats to border security, national security, financial and physical security are prime motivators. The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs in late June was followed by an increase in voter registration among women, donations to Planned Parenthood and Google searches about abortion. Recently, abortion “has faded” as a top issue in polls. 

Prominent Democrats have warned their party to talk less about abortion and more about economic angst. Sure, many women (and men) care about abortion, but polls show it is being trumped by the weekly demands of filling up the gas tank and grocery cart, and the monthly demands of rent and mortgage, utilities and insurance, car and tuition payments. 

A woman arrives for early voting in Georgia on Oct. 21, 2022.
(Stephen Goin)

Yet the Democrats can’t help themselves. They arrogantly think they own “women’s issues” and have taken for granted a conventional political gender gap that has narrowed, one that hardly helped Hillary Clinton become “the first woman president.” Lately it seems Democrats speak to women mostly from the waist down, while Republicans speak to women from the waist up, where our brains, eyes, ears, mouths and hearts are. 

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ALL issues are “women’s issues.” Women are multi-taskers and multi-thinkers. Very few women are single-issue voters, instead, considering any number of issues, ideas, individuals and impressions before making a choice. This is part of why women deeply disapprove of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Harris may share their gender, but she has not convinced women that she shares their fears and frustrations and positions on key issues. 

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during the Democratic National Committee Women's Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 30, 2022.

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during the Democratic National Committee Women’s Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 30, 2022.
(Leigh Vogel/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Women do not wake up each day to a calendar stuck on “Jan. 6, 2021.” When most think of former President Donald J. Trump it is without obsession or delusion. It is with a yearning for $2.14 gas prices, 1.4% inflation, energy independence, border security, Putin out of Ukraine and police on the streets. Election deniers! has become a late rallying cry, yet women are miffed at a president and a political party of inflation deniers

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Women are complicated individuals with a straightforward set of priorities in 2022. Thematically, think “SAFE” – or Security, Affordability, Fairness, Education. Chaos and crisis instead of security and safety. Everyday life becoming increasingly unaffordable. The unfairness of big tech censoring conservatives, or carpenters and hairdressers paying for the student loans of doctors and lawyers. The inexcusable lost learning, declining test scores and emotional challenges for America’s students, all while an entire Democrat party stands in the schoolhouse door refusing to let kids exit failing schools and access a quality education worthy of their dignity and humanity. 

There has been a 32-point shift in one month among self-identified independent women from Democrats to Republicans on the generic ballot, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll. If these numbers hold, this would be a monster Republican year given historical trends of double-digit advantages for Democrats on that question.

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It’s not just female voters who are rethinking their relationship with Democrats. Female candidates are, too. More than 253 women filed to run as Republicans across the House map: 81 women are the Republican nominees for the U.S. House, 7 women are the Republican nominees for U.S. Senate and 9 women are the Republican nominees for governors. Republicans continue to elevate and elect a diverse group of candidates. 

Women are just over 50% of the electorate, but care about 100% of the issues. Women reject the extremes, seek consensus and demand solutions. They vote according to what they see, not according to what politicians say. Many of them are seeing red and are in the red, and so will vote “red” in what is shaping up to be buoyant midterm elections for Republicans.

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