After the 2012 election, the two voting groups who pretty much everyone—well, almost everyone—agreed the GOP needed to do better with were Latinos and women. Seventy-one percent of Latinos voted for President Obama. Fifty-four percent of women did the same—a massive gender gap by historical standards.
As we’ve already noted, today, Republicans look to be well on their way to scuppering their chances of improving their performance with Latinos, by potentially holding up immigration reform in deference to their conservative base. So how’s the outreach to women going?
Not great, either. In just the last week, Sen. Saxby Chambliss has said that military sexual assaults are caused by the “hormone level created by nature;” Mississippi governor Phil Bryant has argued that problems in our education system began when “the mom got in the workplace,” and Erick Erickson, a leading conservative pundit and activist, has appeared to argue that science dictates men should be dominant over women (earning an epic smackdown from Fox News’s Megyn Kelly).
It’s worth noting, by the way, that Chambliss was at least expressing concern over the problem of military sexual assaults, and saying we should do more to address the issue, when he said what he did.
But still. It’s enough to make you recall the heady days of “legitimate rape” last summer.
And now, Politico reports, Democrats and their allies are getting ready to make political hay out of the GOP’s latest missteps:
Inside the Senate, Democrats are beginning meetings to strategize their messaging on the issue, according to a Senate Democratic aide.
“This is not an issue for Harry Reid or Chuck Schumer to jump into. This is an issue for Patty Murray and Claire McCaskill and the women senators to jump into,” the aide said. “We will take advantage of it, but this is the mold of the Planned Parenthood fight and the Blunt amendment fight. The female senators will take the lead. Part of the advantage of having a large number of women in your caucus is having people who are effective messengers on issues like this.’
(By the way, did you catch that “part of the advantage of having a large number of women in your caucus”? Unlike some major parties, in other words).
The problem for Republicans is that however careful they are, they’re not going to be able to stop prominent members of the party or the conservative movement from making these kinds of slips. Because these are their actual views, as well as the views of many of the party’s core supporters. And in the end, no amount of outreach to women, or improved message discipline, can hide that.