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The Tally Ho

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Security Moms II

First, read the article that shows how Elwood is just ahead of the curve.

Next, ponder with me: why are Security Moms going for Bush? What is a Security Mom? If I don't have kids, can I still be one? And why don't those pesky unmarried women vote, anyway?

Here's what the NYTimes has to say.

Democratic and Republican pollsters say the reason for the change this year is that an issue Mr. Bush had initially pitched as part of an overall message - which candidate would be best able to protect the United States from terrorists - has become particularly compelling for women. Several said that a confluence of two events - a Republican convention that was loaded with provocative scenes of the Sept. 11 tragedy, and a terrorist attack on children in Russia - had helped recast the electoral dynamic among this critical group in a way that created a new challenge for the Kerry camp.

Okay, so Beslan and the convention convinced all the Security Moms? These may be the reasons for the blinking upswing in Bush numbers, but I don't really think it tells the whole story. Bush's cowboy politics are likely to have left us more vulnerable to terrorist attack in the next ten years, no matter who wins in November. The trouble for these Moms is that Kerry hasn't articulated his plan (if he has one) to make us safer. He's quite busy defending his military record and his willingness to go to war, but he's not really getting to the heart of the issue, which is: a lot of people in this world hate the U.S., and we need to neutralize that threat somehow. As long as he doesn't present a plan that will inspire these Moms, they will continue with their fatalistic attitude that the terrorists will attack and we should have someone who's willing to go blow up the bad guys. I don't think they appreciate the job that Bush has done over the last four years. But in the absence of other options, it's not surprising that they are going with the devil they know.

So who are these Moms? Do I have to be one? Do I want to be one?
Also in the last month, Mr. Kerry suffered in the polls from attacks by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group that challenged his record in Vietnam and highlighted his antiwar activities in the 1970's. One Democratic strategist said Mr. Kerry's failure to fight back against that attack fed a perception, particularly among married women, that he would not fight for them and their children. And, the strategist said, it is one reason Mr. Kerry must now "rebuild his image on strength.''
. . . Traditionally, there is a gap between married women and single women, with married women voting more Republican and single women voting more Democratic. This year, Ms. Lake said, the gap between how married and single women expect to vote is greater than it has ever been, largely because of the emergence of what analysts call "security moms,'' who tend to be white, married women who have children and who are fearful of another attack within the United States.

The subtext of this statement is that married = kids. Married women aren't more likely to vote Republican because they've borne children; 35% of kids are born to unmarried moms and lots of married women (ahem) are childless. Married women are more likely to vote Republican because their household income is reliably higher. It's not a security issue, and frankly, it's never going to be a security issue. If the unnamed Democratic strategist wants Kerry to "rebuild his image on strength", it's only going to dig him deeper into the hole. He cannot out-Bush Bush (and really, why would he want to?) But right now he is making Bush's mistake: campaigning to women through their husbands by talking about wars and factory jobs. He needs to begin campaigning directly to women, not about rape advocacy, but about the issues that tend to bring women into the political arena to begin with: abortion issues, health care, and education.* Every politician talks about health care for all Americans (unless you're Republican, then it's all working Americans) and about better schools. Tell us how. Every politician wants to reduce the number of abortions. Tell us how, and maybe we'll vote for you.

*Do you find this accurate? Send your thoughts.

Steve Trombley, president of Planned Parenthood Chicago Action Fund, writes:
Did you know that unmarried women were one of the smallest percentages of voters to turn out in the last election? Did you know that if unmarried women voters turn out at the same rate as married women it could advance the Kerry-Edwards ticket to a win?

He wrote this in a fund-raising letter on August 6, before Beslan and before the GOP convention. I'm not sure that his promise is accurate, because he can't guarantee the political leaning of every unmarried woman he's signing up to vote. But I can understand why these gals are not voting: if you are female, but not a Security Mom, nobody's talking to you. If you are unmarried and/or childless, nobody's talking to you. Are we supposed to take Mr. Trombley's word for it that Kerry will "stand up for choice" by keeping reactionaries out of the Court or improve the health care situation that drives so many women to Planned Parenthood in the first place? Trombley seems to think we will. I'm not so sure.


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