EMILY’s List, the PAC backing pro-choice, Democratic women candidates, is launching a massive new outreach effort to women voters in a number of Senate and House races. The group’s independent expenditure arm, Women Vote!, says it is deploying extensive research to win what it believes is a crucial voting bloc.
Through a series of polls and focus groups held over the past several months, EMILY’s List said Wednesday it had zeroed in on which voters it believes are up for grabs and, more importantly, which issues could sway them.
In several races, the group found that women’s health issues will be key.
The group found that 62 percent of independent women in Nevada, where Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley is challenging Sen. Dean Heller, believes Heller’s vote to defund Planned Parenthood is a convincing reason to vote against him. Women Vote! will target 48,000 pro-choice, independent women in Nevada with direct mail and online ads highlighting Heller’s record on Planned Parenthood.
The group also found that 70 percent of independent women voters believe Tommy Thompson’s work as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C. is a reason to vote against him in the Wisconsin Senate race, where he is facing Rep. Tammy Baldwin. The group said it is educating women on Thompson’s time in Washington with TV ads and via direct mail.
In Hawaii’s Senate race, in which Rep. Mazie Hirono faces former Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, polling shows nearly 60 percent of independent women believe funding cuts to Hawaii’s schools under Lingle is reason to vote against her. Between Sept. 18 and Oct. 2, Women Vote! will target persuadable women voters with direct mail.
Republican candidates’ positions on women’s health issues are thought to be a winning issue in four House races: AZ-01, FL-10, IL-17, WA-01, and the New Hampshire gubernatorial race. The group is using direct mail to reach independent women in each of these districts and New Hampshire.
Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List, said on a conference call with reporters Wednesday that November will be “a perfect storm election for us” on a conference call with reporters Wednesday. Schriock pointed to three factors she said are working in their favor: women voters’ crucial role in the election,Republicans’ choice to prioritize issues women don’t like — like restricting access to family planning — and finally, a number of strong women candidates.
The group declined to say how much money it has put behind its outreach efforts, but said it would “spend whatever it’s going to take to win these races.”
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.