A woman wears a cowboy hat with a patriotic bow during the final day of the Republican National Convention, Aug. 30, 2012 in Tampa, Fla.
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Republicans research how to woo women voters


The GOP has spent weeks researching exactly how they should be talking to women, in hopes of winning more votes and being more competitive with Democrats, party officials told msnbc.

It’s the party’s latest attempt to change the conversation away from the “war on women” Democrats say they’re waging and it signals the party’s growing commitment to grow their base, particularly with women, who helped the president secure a second term in 2012 when 55% of them voted for him after GOP outreach attempts (such as Ann Romney’s “I love you, women!” exultation at the RNC) fell flat.

“Republicans recognize the need to win a greater share of women’s votes,” Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski wrote in an email. So they spent three weeks having two female pollsters survey 1,206 women to try to identify their priorities and test out messaging strategies. The GOP described their effort as reactionary, describing repeatedly how the GOP is trying to “fight back” against Democratic attacks against the party on women and the “contrived war on women” narrative.

The biggest takeaway from the data is an idea the GOP has been running with for months, that opposing Obamacare may be a winning issue for them with women. The party has been pushing Obamacare opposition as a key selling point, the Washington Post reported in March, and the data backs it up: A majority of women – 55% – oppose Obamacare, while 41% support it, the RNC said.

Women resonated with the phrase “start over,” too, Kukowski said. 

Kukowski declined to release the actual questions they asked or a raw set of the data, instead saying that information was for the candidates and they “aren’t going to give away our messaging strategy,” but their poll found stronger opposition to Obamacare than independent public polling.

For instance, just 43% of women opposed Obamacare when surveyed by the Kaiser Family Foundation in May, while a CNN/ORC poll the same month found that 61% want Congress to leave the Affordable Care Act alone or make some changes to the law in an attempt to make it work better.

The economy is another strong issue for the party among women, Kukowski added.

The data – announced in part by an op-ed written by the pollsters, which strongly resembles the talking points the RNC emailed out – found that Republican messaging resonated strongly with women on the economy.

“[O]nly 25% of women in these districts believe the country is headed in the right direction, while 67% say it’s on the wrong track,” the survey found, according to the pollsters. “A majority (53%) also disapprove of President Barack Obama’s job performance.”

Democrats lambasted the news in email blasts, with the Democratic National Committee taking aim at the three weeks of polling. “I wish they had called. We could have saved them the time,” they wrote. 

“Republican outreach to women is still style over substance. Now, they’re trying new methods of generating even more shoddy polling of women’s opinions in hopes of messaging around their problems with women voters,” EMILY’s List Jess McIntosh wrote in an email.