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The Gender Gap on Guns

The Gender Gap on Guns

By Bill Lambrecht of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch 

WASHINGTON • The passionate discussion over gun ownership often is cast as a debate between the National Rifle Association and people who don’t own guns.

Or between the public, which wants stricter gun laws, and a polarized Congress.

But another clear dividing line is the view toward guns between men and women.

An array of national polls this month show a double-digit gender gap between men and women on gun issues.

In a Pew Research Center poll, two thirds of women surveyed said they favor a ban on semiautomatic weapons, while fewer than half of men supported such a prohibition.

Similarly, a New York Times/CBS poll showed a 14 percent gender gap when asking simply if stricter gun laws are desirable.

And in yet another poll, this one conducted by United Technologies/National Journal, more than a third off women would go as far as to ban handguns — an unlikely development that just  22 percent of men would support.

Congress takes its biggest gun-related step of the year tomorrow when the Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on gun violence with NRA headWayne LaPierre scheduled to be on hand.

One question now is whether anti-gun women can exert their muscle in Congress — and another is whether members who don’t embrace substantial changes feel the wrath of women at election time.

The capacity of female voters to sway elections is no secret, displayed in Barack Obama’s 13-point and 11-point winning margin among women voters in his last two election victories. But can they sway public policy decisions?

Democratic pollster Margie Omero believes that women feel so strongly that guns are now at the core of so-called women’s issues.

“I think we could see this issue mobilize women voters the way we saw issues mobilize women last time around,” said Omero, who has blogged about the gender gap.

If Congress doesn’t listen? “It would be another sign to women voters that Washington has become a mess and is not paying attention to them,” she contended.

Omero observed that pressure will be coming from One Million Moms for Gun Control, an organization formed after the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut but already with dozens of chapters around the country. And Gabrielle Giffords, who resigned her Arizona congressional seat a year after nearly dying from a gunshot will be leading a new lobbying effort aimed gun laws.

Omero acknowledges that it is too early to know whether women can bring sufficient pressure. Besides aiming at Republicans, the women feeling strongly about the issues also must persuade red-state Democrats fearing backlash.

“I think the question is not whether Democrats will be worried about voting for these bills. The question is whether Republicans will worry about being held accountable,” she argued.

Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, believes the gender gap may be rooted in women’s lack of experience with guns. Wagner lives in a household well stocked with guns but she doesn’t shoot them, she noted.

“We (women) support the Second Amendment and we support those in our families that use them for hunting and sport and for protection. There are plenty of women who conceal and carry, I know a number of them,” she said.

Wagner, an NRA member, said she believes the nation has yet to have a needed dialogue on mental health and other issues related to guns that don’t require federal involvement.

“If you want armed guards in your schools, then that’s something an individual school board can take up,” she said.

A battle for 7 states

By JONATHAN MARTIN | 10/23/12 4:37 AM EDT

BOCA RATON, Fla. — The two presidential campaigns are sounding sharply different notes about how they can get to 270 electoral votes, but beneath the post-debate bravado from both sides there is a rough consensus about the shape of the race in its final two weeks.

Top strategists for both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney flooded the media center following the third and final presidential debate here Monday night, and made clear they will be primarily fighting over seven states and will spend most of their time and money in them between now and Nov. 6.

Continue Reading

Spin room reactions

Campaigns describe final push

Obama, Romney best lines


(Also on POLITICO: 7 takeaways from final debate)

The main battlegrounds: Ohio, Iowa, Colorado, Virginia, New Hampshire, Florida and Wisconsin. The late inclusion of Wisconsin on this list reflects a bet by Romney — buoyed by some polls showing an opportunity for him there — that he can turn a state that has not voted for a Republican presidential nominee since 1984.

Romney officials, eyeing steady gains in the polls, have not ruled out attempting to broaden the map in other states — claims met with disparagement by Obama aides, who say they remain confident their electoral college firewall is intact even amid a tightening national race and signs that three swing states in the South are looking more favorable for the GOP nominee.

Republicans are genuinely intrigued by the prospect of a strike in Pennsylvania and, POLITICO has learned, are considering going up on TV there outside the expensive Philadelphia market. But what Romney officials worry about, both in Pennsylvania and Michigan, is that if they put some cash down or use precious hours to send their candidate there Obama will respond by crushing their offensive with a big ad buy of his own.

(Also on POLITICO: 6 questions that will settle the election)

So while Boston is open to the idea of going into such traditional Democratic strongholds, it is still mostly playing within the same map the two candidates have been locked in for months. And, increasingly, it is narrowing its focus as prospects improve in North Carolina, Florida and Virginia.

“That states that we’re playing in are the states we need to win,” noted Romney strategist Russ Schriefer. “We’ll see what happens in the next two weeks. We’re going to concentrate on Ohio and Colorado and Iowa and New Hampshire.”

“We’ll be in Ohio a lot,” added Romney strategist Stuart Stevens.

The Romney campaign is already airing TV ads in Wisconsin. The former Massachusetts governor has not been to the state since he tapped Paul Ryan as his running mate in August but is headed back soon.

(Also on POLITICO: Mitt Romney: I come in peace)

“We’ll be back in Wisconsin,” said Eric Fehrnstrom. “Wisconsin is definitely in play.”

Obama officials, meanwhile, are convinced that they have a lead in Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada — and aren’t yet willing to write off Colorado, Florida and Virginia.

But senior Democrats increasingly recognize that their path to 270 electoral votes is not in the latter three but in the Midwest.

“Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio are crucial — if we win those three states, the president is reelected,” said Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a close Obama ally.

(Also on POLITICO: Media: Obama in fighting mood)

Obama adviser Robert Gibbs put it another way, saying Romney’s fate would depend on whether he can sweep the trio of Big 10 states.

“We intend to go out and win each of the three of those states,” said Gibbs.

And Pennsylvania and Michigan? They’re not worried and aren’t likely to send Obama there.

“Probably not, no,” said Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter when asked if the president would rally supporters in the two traditionally Democratic electoral troves. “We have significant resources there. We are invested in those states at a much higher level than Gov. Romney is.”

The Mom Vivant / Debate watching parties

So, I was thinking I should write a column with a debate themed recipe for tonight’s foreign policy debate when I hit google search to find some good ones. Then I thought the suggestions on there were so funny that I had to write a Mom Vivant about it instead. First of all, Barack suggests a marshmallow throwing event where, if you don’t like something Romney says, you can throw a marshmallow at the television screen. I would say that’s because, so far, the Obama folks haven’t had anything hard to hit him with! Then had a column on drinking games you could play which I would say had more to do with the sorry state of us Moms during the witching hour between dinner, homework, baths and bed than the sorry state of our country right now. The New Diplomat’s wife is in Vienna, happily ensconsed in the most diplomatic and lovely of all foreign places to watch what will undoubtedly be a down and dirty fight for dominance in this race.  But hands down the most outrageous suggestions for a debate watching party come from GQ. I will say the only one I feel comfortable printing here is this one:

“Make Korean BBQ.  This pork shoulder is INSANE. I never knew scallions could be so delicious!”

I still haven’t come up with anything for dinner but am thinking this might be a good night for something we can 1) take out and 2) not spend a lot of money on.  Maybe Chinese? Maybe hummus and pita since the Middle East will be front and center in tonight’s discussion. I wish I had some ideas about traditional Afghan or Persian food. But unless it comes as take out ….

So long as you do well, Bear.

I don’t think it is productive to criticize a First Lady’s speech because you would hope they would get up and show the love. And that’s just what Michelle Obama did. My favorite line was when she talked about how Barack Obama’s grandmother used to say to him that she didn’t mind sacrificing, telling him, “So long as you do well, Bear.” As someone who voted for Obama, I will just say that we disagree on the fix. There is no doubt President Barack Obama is a good guy. The Republicans would be wasting time to try to convince voters otherwise. But his own wife said it best when she said, “the stakes are high.” And, “there is no margin for error.” Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is funny but doesn’t always show it. He is a bit of a Boy Scout and if he has a fault, it is that he gums up a little bit when asked to sell himself.  That’s modesty and I think it is genuine. His business experience and track record on financial matters speak for themselves, though. Much as I admire the First Lady on a personal level, and thought she did a nice job Tuesday night, we have to acknowledge it is a “long game.” More than 40% of Americans say they are worse off than they were four years ago. So, Moms across the country need to pause and consider what more of the same would mean for all of our “little bears.” 

It's the ladies, by a long shot, in the latest popularity polls

It’s the ladies, by a long shot, in the latest popularity polls

According to the latest ABC News/Washington Post polls, Ann Romney is even more popular than Mitt Romney. Michelle Obama is more popular than Barack Obama and even Hillary Clinton is more popular than at any other time in her 20 years on the political stage. Could it be that a partisan weary public sees women as better negotiators and more capable of compromise? The concern I have with this poll is that two-thirds of moderate voters polled said they view both Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton favorably. Only slightly more than 40 percent said the same about Ann Romney. That could be because she is less known. Michelle Obama’s numbers could be the legacy of the cover girl treatment she received in the 2008 elections and Hillary Clinton has been working so hard for so many years, even those who don’t like her politics have grown to respect her, myself included. So, what can Ann Romney do between now and Election Day 2012 to boost her numbers with independents and moderates? I think we just need to see and hear more from her. I heard her on Piers Morgan recently and she talked mostly about Mitt, which isn’t inappropriate, since he is the candidate. But moderate women may want to hear what it is like to juggle a large family when your husband is running for President or what it was like to have multiple sclerosis or her opinions on some of the issues at the forefront this year. Actually, it might create a little Barbara Bush spark if she shared an issue that they don’t agree on. It won’t change his position but it will show who she is apart from her husband. Just a thought!


Michelle Obama and Ann Romney outscore their husbands in personal popularity in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, while Hillary Clinton, for her part, has hit a new high in favorability data stretching back to her entry on the national stage 20 years ago.

Clinton and Obama both are far better known than Romney, helping boost them to much higher popularity ratings overall. All three are rated unfavorably by roughly similar numbers, 24 percent for Obama, 27 percent for Clinton and 30 percent for Romney.

All told, Obama is seen favorably by 69 percent of the public, unfavorably by 24 percent – not her best rating (76-16 percent in March 2009) but a broadly positive one. Her favorability rating is 13 points higher than her husband’s; her unfavorable score, 16 points lower.

See PDF with full results and tables here

Romney’s rating is 40-30 percent favorable-unfavorable in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. While much less positive than Obama’s, some of that has to do with Romney’s shorter time in the spotlight: Thirty percent are undecided about her, compared with 7 percent undecided about Obama.

Romney, in any case, does better than her husband’s 35-47 percent rating last week. She’s a scant 5 points higher than Mitt Romney in favorability, but a broader 17 points lower in unfavorable ratings. As noted last week, Mitt Romney’s basic popularity ratings are the weakest for any presumptive presidential nominee in ABC/Post polls during primary seasons since 1984.

Clinton’s ratings are much like Obama’s – 65-27 percent favorable-unfavorable, a numerical high for Clinton by a single point. That reflects a turnaround from the 2008 presidential campaign, in which she lost the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama. At this time four years ago she was seen unfavorably by 54 percent of Americans, favorably by 44 percent.

Clinton likely is boosted by her current position: As secretary of state, she’s prominent as a representative of U.S. interests and concerns overseas, without engaging in the controversial to-and-fro of domestic politics. Note too that her husband, also largely outside the fray of domestic politics these days, had an equally positive 67-29 percent favorable-unfavorable rating in a Pew poll last month, much like his wife’s, and also Michelle Obama’s, today.

There are differences in intensity of sentiment. Michelle Obama is viewed strongly favorably by 38 percent of Americans, strongly unfavorably by 12 percent. Hillary Clinton’s ratings are 33 percent strongly positive vs. 13 percent strongly negative – the latter its lowest by 13 points, and a shift from generally much greater negative intensity in past years. Intensity of views on Ann Romney are evenly divided – 11 percent strongly favorable, 13 percent strongly unfavorable.

GROUPS – Being a step away from the main political fray isn’t the same as being out of politics; indeed there are sharp partisan differences in views of these three women. Obama and Clinton both are viewed favorably by a near-unanimous 90 percent of Democrats, but by far fewer Republicans – 44 and 39 percent, respectively. Romney, by contrast, is rated favorably by 64 percent of Republicans, but 24 percent of Democrats.

In the political center, roughly two-thirds of independents express positive views of Obama and Clinton alike. Forty-two percent hold favorable opinions of Romney, again with many undecided.

There are ideological differences as well, although notably, all three women are rated favorably by roughly equal numbers – from 51 to 53 percent – of conservatives. Obama and Clinton go much higher in popularity among political moderates and liberals, while Romney heads the other way.