Republicans are struggling to win women voters. This is not a new problem.

August 28, 2014

GOP outside groups Crossroads GPS and the American Action Network put together an internal report on the Republican Party's problems with women, and they came to many of the same conclusions as those who have been criticizing the party for years.

Politico obtained the report, titled  “Republicans and Women Voters: Huge Challenges, Real Opportunities,” and reported that polling shows that married women without a college degree are the only women who reliably prefer Republicans to Democrats. The report has some ideas for how Republicans can try to win a few more votes from women, including offering policy ideas that may seem "unexpected" coming from the GOP. For now, however, the report concludes, the Republican Party is “stuck in the past.”


Iowa Republican senatorial candidate Joni Ernst speaks during a campaign rally as former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, left, looks on, last spring in West Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

But the idea that Republicans need to win back women is actually pretty old school. After the 2012 election, the Republican National Committee said the party needed to have a renewed focus on women-oriented policy and outreach if it wanted to succeed in the future. Republican outreach to women has been newsworthy for far longer than that, though -- like 100 years longer.

Here's a New York Times article from June 22, 1919, about a conference titled, "How to make women feel at home in the Republican Party."

Source: The New York Times
Source: The New York Times

Four years later, there were no women on the Republican National Committee, which inevitably led to criticism from the opposition. Here's another article from the New York Times.

Source: The New York Times
Source: The New York Times

Rep. Cordell Hull, who then chaired the Democratic National Committee, said, "The Republican women of America are entitled to the sympathy of all good citizens in their most embarrassing and mortifying situation of being obliged to kiss the hand that smites them."

The list goes on and on. In 1934, The Washington Post published an article that began: "Woman, whose pale political wand has grown into a persuasive party cudgel the last few years, may prove the strong arm behind the resuscitation of the Republican Party. Youth is another revitalizing factor to be counted upon."

Source: The Washington Post
Source: The Washington Post

In August 1983, then-Sen. Richard Lugar wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post on trying to make the Republican Party appeal to women.


Source: The Washington Post

They were still thinking about how to recruit women the following year.

Source: The New York Times
Source: The New York Times

In 1994, the GOP was "trying to rid itself of the "popular conception of Republicans as a homogeneous party of uncaring, rich, white men."

Source: The Washington Post
Source: The Washington Post

On Thursday, RNC chair Reince Preibus went on MSNBC to discuss the new report and said: "I think the point of that poll wasn't reported by Politico. The point was, if you looked at it, women were rejecting the Democratic Party by 40 percent; they were rejecting the Republican Party by 50 percent. I don't think either party can do a victory lap here."

Host Chuck Todd, who conducted the interview, pressed Priebus on the poll's particulars on economic issues -- where Democrats have a big lead with women. Democrats, of course, have been trying to appeal to women for ages, too -- just with more success.

Source: The New York Times, 1948
Source: The New York Times, 1948
Source: The New York Times, 1956
Source: The New York Times, 1956

Source: The New York Times, 1976
Jaime Fuller reports on national politics for "The Fix" and Post Politics. She worked previously as an associate editor at the American Prospect, a political magazine based in Washington, D.C.
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