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GRANDVILLE, MI - FEBRUARY 28: Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) (L) greets diners at the Rainbow Grill on February 28, 2012 in Grandville, Michigan.
The Republican presidential nominating race continues today with primaries in Alabama and Mississippi, and caucuses in Hawaii and American Samoa. Over the weekend, Rick Santorum won a surprising 51% in the Kansas caucuses, to Mitt Romney’s 21% -- picking up 33 of the state’s 40 delegates. Romney countered by taking Wyoming and at least six of the 12 delegates there.
We’ll look at what’s at stake in today’s suddenly pivotal Southern primary, as well as count the delegates each contender has racked up so far. Meanwhile, the “culture wars” over contraception and women’s rights may be having a negative impact on the GOP brand. As Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich fight for support from the party’s conservative base, some women of both parties are expressing outrage over the extreme rhetoric on social issues.
According to a new CBS / New York Times poll, only about a third of the women surveyed said they’d vote for Romney over President Obama. The President held the same advantage over Santorum. It’s too soon to tell how much all this will impact voting among moderate Republican and independent women. But President Obama is wasting no time trying to capitalize on the current political climate in an attempt to regain the traditional Democratic advantage among female voters. Highlighting the debate over the new health care law, as well as partisan clashes over birth control and abortion, team Obama is launching an aggressive effort to build support among women. From 1992 to 2008, Democrats dominated the overall women’s vote in presidential elections. But in the 2010 midterms, women swung to the right.
Is the GOP losing that momentum in this election battle? Do the Republicans have a serious female problem on their hands? What should the parties do to appeal more to women voters?
Jonathan Wilcox, Republican Strategist; former speech writer for Governor Pete Wilson
Matt Rodriguez, Democratic strategist; former senior Obama advisor in 2008, who now runs the Los Angeles office for the Dewey Square Group
Ange-Marie Hancock, Associate Professor of Political Science and Gender Studies at USC