How not to address the gender gap

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Republican officials are not blind to their demographic problems. GOP candidates tend to excel with whites, men, and older voters, and that may even be enough in the short term for Republicans to take control of Congress, but it’s not a recipe for long-term success. Party leaders know this, but aren’t entirely sure what they’re willing to do about it.
 
Since changing their policy agenda has been deemed out of the question, many Republicans have resorted to rhetorical experimentation, trying to come up with new ways to persuade Democratic voters to make the jump to the increasingly far-right GOP. In 2012, for example, the RNC aired ads encouraging women to “break up” with President Obama. Earlier this year, the RNC unveiled a new pitch to millennials featuring a young man with ill-fitting clothes, awkwardly reading cue cards on energy policy.
 
These pitches weren’t especially effective, though the party apparently keeps trying.
In the latest attempt to woo female voters, a Republican group has launched an ad featuring a woman’s declining “relationship” with President Obama. […]
 
The Republican group Americans for Shared Prosperity is behind the 60-second spot, called “Dating Profile,” with Florida GOP consultant and media man Rick Wilson at the helm. John Jordan, who heads the group, told POLITICO the goal of the ad is “to communicate with women voters in a way that outside groups and campaigns haven’t.”
Which is to say, badly.
 
The spot features a young woman saying she “fell in love” with a man in 2008, “stuck with him” in 2012, but now that he “thinks the only thing I care about is free birth control,” she intends to vote against “his friends.”
 
How this got past the focus-group stage is a bit of a mystery to me.
Nia-Malika Henderson’s take rings true: “So yes, this ad is, um, strange. Probably sexist too – but mainly it’s just weird and bad. Very, very bad. The script, the concept, and even the acting. Not to mention that at 60 seconds, the ad, first reported by Politico,  is just too long. It also misses the fact that the most important demographic of this midterm – older white non-college women – care more about Social Security than birth control. (Also, why not use a real person, it’s much more effective, but…oh…right…real women don’t think of Obama as their boyfriends).”
 
Joan Walsh also did a nice job tearing the ad apart with a scalpel, explaining, “[A]d maker Rick Wilson and Americans for Shared Prosperity believe the way to convince women to vote for Republicans is to compare the president to a bad boyfriend. Obviously they think we’re idiots who put romance before reason, even in politics…. Maybe the worst thing about the ad is that its sponsors are utterly clueless about how demeaning it is.”
 
I’d just add that John Jordan, Rick Wilson, and Americans for Shared Prosperity took 60 seconds to make this pitch, but they never got around to making the case for Republicans. These Republicans are comfortable equating national politics and dating profiles, but they’re not comfortable telling women why they should move to the right.
 
The problem, I suspect, is that the GOP agenda has alienated women to the point that it almost seems intentional. It’s the party of medically-unnecessary ultrasounds, opposition to equal-pay laws, restrictions contraception access, closing women’s health clinics, harsh new limits on reproductive rights, targeting Planned Parenthood, and misguided rhetoric about “legitimate rape.”
 
These are the folks with their arms outstretched, waiting to woo the woman who no longer likes “Barack’s” friends?

War On Women

How not to address the gender gap

Updated