What does this tell us? For one thing, that conservative candidates shouldn’t pay consultants to coach them to sound more like Democrats on so-called “women’s issues” because (1) it is unprincipled, (2) it never works, and (3) it never works because we are looking at an array of issues besides “gender.” There’s a fourth reason: The last thing conservatives should base political strategy on is Democratic and media spin.
Let’s take another piece of exit polling data: middle-income voters. Republicans, while endlessly caricatured as “the party of the rich,” reliably win majorities of middle-income voters. In 2012, Romney won voters with a family income between $50,000 and $99,000, 52 percent to 46 percent. Cuccinelli won this same income group in Virginia, 51 percent to 43 percent.
Another category Republicans win every time is married Americans. In 2012, Mitt Romney won 56 percent of the married vote to Barack Obama’s 42 percent. (Obama won unmarried voters, 62 percent to 35 percent.) Romney won married men, 60 percent to 38 percent, and he won married women, 53 percent to 46 percent. In Virginia, married voters overall favored Cuccinelli, 50 percent to 43 percent. (McAuliffe won unmarried voters, 62 percent to 29 percent.) Cuccinelli won married men 50 percent to 44 percent, and married women 52 percent to 42 percent.
In other words, middle-income and married Americans are Republican strongholds. Eureka! Here is where Republicans can find winning margins by turning out more of these traditional voters — as many as humanly possible.
It’s time to realize that the focused-on, focused-grouped “gender” issues are a giant bait-and-switch that keep Republicans from winning.
One of the hallmarks of the Obama re-election campaign was its relentless pursuit of every last voter especially among constituencies Obama already had in his column. Thus, the president worked for and won an even higher percentage of black women, for example, in 2012 than he did in 2008. Conservative Republicans should take a page from this winning strategy. Instead of following their predecessors off the phony “gender gap” cliff, they, too, should go back to friendly Republican wells to draw more of the voters who already support them but fail to feel sufficient urgency to go to the polls.