Who Will Vote Republican This Year?
“I’m talking about issues that people care about,” said Republican candidate Scott Brown (N.H.) during an interview, according to The Huffington Post. He was addressing accusations from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) who claims “Scott Brown’s record is clear: when it counts, he doesn’t stand up for women’s reproductive rights and economic security,” in her campaign tour targeting New Hampshire women. Brown’s response was hardly the most cautious he could have offered, insisting that while “women’s issues are very important” he is “focusing on the things that people care about.” This, apparently, includes everything from border security to veterans to Obamacare, but not women’s rights and equal pay.
What Republicans Want From Voters
The Republican party might disagree, though, as it has been working for some time now to appeal more to women voters. A few months shy of a year ago, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) worked with aids in meeting fellow congressional Republicans to talk about gender sensitivity. “I try to get them to be a little more sensitive. You know, you look around the Congress and there are a lot more females in the Democratic caucus than in the Republican caucus, and some of our members just aren’t as sensitive as they out to be,” said Boehner back in December of his efforts, reports The Washington Post.
Since then, the party has continued making similar efforts to draw more women to the GOP, especially in light of the very tight congressional elections, with Democrats and Republicans neck and neck to take the majority. Unfortunately for Republicans, many of these efforts have been botched, and have instead drawn the ire of constituents. For example, Rick Snyder’s “Say Yes to Rick Snyder” from the College Republican National Committee attempted to attract female voters through reality TV, wedding chatter, and dress comparisons; not exactly an empowered take on outreach.
What the Polls Tell Us Women Want
Considering the GOP’s clear and present desire to draw women to the party, Brown may want to reconsider what women specifically care about. A new poll from Gallup may have a couple of hints. The late September poll shows that all Americans, men and women alike, put equal pay at the top of the list of issues that are most important to working women in the United States. A total of 41% of women listed it as the most important issues, with 37% of men saying the same, and 39% total across the sexes. Just under equal pay, they placed equal opportunity for promotion and advancement.
Where Do Politicians Fall on Equal Pay?
Democrats have also been stepping up their pro-women rhetoric, and generally tend to be more supportive of equal pay legislation like the Paycheck Fairness Act, or an increase to the minimum wage, which would particularly help women workers in America. It’s not surprising the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chose to focus on the Paycheck Fairness vote in September, saying it’s blockage in the Senate has reminded “voters yet again that the GOP isn’t on the side of women or middle class families.”
However, Republicans aren’t out of the fight either, insisting that the Act was not the right move for helping women. “All Republicans support equal pay for equal work. Democrats have controlled the White House and Senate for the last five years yet always seem to wait for an election year to push another empty promise,” said National Republican Senatorial Committee spokeswoman Brook Hougesen to The Hill. “The truth is, the ‘Paycheck Fairness Act’ is nothing more than smoke and mirrors and is a political ploy to manipulate women. It doesn’t provide paycheck fairness for women. In actuality, it will cut flexibility in the work place for working mothers and end merit pay that rewards good work — the very things that are important to us.”
While still debatable in terms of accuracy, Hougesen is at least willing to discuss the importance of fair pay, rather than suggesting it’s not of importance to voters, as Brown did. Still, all four Republican women in the Senate voted against the bill, including Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) who told The Huffington Post that she believes “existing laws are adequate,” and that pay discrepancy could be the result of other things.
“It may be due to personal decisions that women make to leave the workforce to raise children for a number of years and then return to the workforce, for example,” she said. “I don’t think you can assume discrimination.”
Follow Anthea Mitchell on Twitter @AntheaWSCS