President Obama has emerged with an impressive lead in swing states around the country — thanks to women voters abandoning the GOP in droves, according to a new USA Today/Gallup poll showing President Obama leading among women voters in the top dozen battleground states by a whopping 18 points — greater than the 12-point gender gap he won with in 2008.
One month ago, the same poll showed Mitt Romney leading the president by 2 percentage points; but Sunday, the newest poll gave Obama a 9-point lead, 51 percent to 42 percent. The change, the poll indicates, comes from women:
“The biggest change came among women under 50. In mid-February, just under half of those voters supported Obama. Now more than six in 10 do while Romney’s support among them has dropped by 14 points, to 30%. The president leads him 2-1 in this group.”
Both Democrats and Republicans point to the battles over contraception coverage as a reason for the shift. Republican strategist Sara Taylor Fagen, a former political adviser to President George W. Bush, told USA Today that “The focus on contraception has not been a good one for us … and Republicans have unfairly taken on water on this issue.”
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina likewise pointed to the GOP’s hang-up on social issues. Most notably, Romney endorsed the Blunt Amendment, which would have allowed employers to deny coverage of contraception, among other services, on moral or religious grounds. A poll commissioned earlier this month by EMILY’s List, the PAC dedicated to electing pro-choice, Democratic women, found that 48 percent of voters — including 53 percent among Independents and 40 percent among Republicans — would be less likely to vote for a candidate who supported the amendment.
Romney pollster Neil Newhouse told USA Today that the numbers would narrow and that the drop was not Romney’s fault. He chalked the difference up to a partisan gender gap. That’s historically true — but not at the levels found in the poll. It showed: By 41 percent to 24 percent, women call themselves Democrats; men by 27 percent to 25 percent say they’re Republicans.
It may be a party-wide problem, but if the poll is any indication, Romney’s comments about getting rid of Planned Parenthood and have not done him any favors with women voters, either.
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.