Have Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen’s comments about Ann Romney, and the resulting debate about the role of women in and out of the workplace in general, hurt Obama’s chances among women? Fortunately for the president that doesn’t seem to be the case.
In a recent poll we found that Obama’s approval ratings among women haven’t decreased significantly compared to ratings one month ago. Currently 50% of women approve of the way Barack Obama is handling his role as President, a rate that is statistically equal to Obama’s approval rating among women before the Rosen uproar.
Simply because Obama appears to have weathered the anti-Rosen media storm doesn’t mean that he has safely won the women’s vote. The issue most critical to women this year isn’t a social one at all – jobs and the economy is by far the issue that is most important to women, an issue in which Obama has weakened in his first term.
Looking back at Obama’s strength on jobs and the economy relative to McCain’s in November 2008, we see that Obama was seen as much stronger on the economy, both among women and men. However so far in this election cycle, Obama’s strength on economic issues is more on-par with Romney’s. Among women specifically Obama has a slight edge on the economy, but not a definitive one.
The lesson here for both the Obama and Romney campaigns is that women’s votes this year will be less influenced by partisan bickering over women in and out of the workforce, and much more heavily influenced by the country’s economic issues as a whole.