Women a key on Nov. 2; Dems' gender edge closing?

The Associated Press
Thursday, September 30, 2010; 3:54 PM

MONROE, N.Y. -- They're worried about putting food on the table and paying the bills. They're frustrated that more hasn't changed since President Barack Obama was elected. And they feel like nobody in Washington - Republican or Democrat - has a clue what they're up against.

America's women, who typically are more likely to vote Democratic, have emerged as a key swing voting bloc that could sway this fall's midterm congressional elections. And an Associated Press-GfK poll suggests that those women most apt to turn out in November are shifting away from the Democrats.

The poll found that on the surface, among registered voters, women preferred Democrats to Republicans by 12 points - about the same margin by which they voted in the 2006 and 2008 elections, according to exit polls.

But among women most likely to vote on Nov. 2, the advantage shrank dramatically, to five points. That matches the edge women gave Democrats in 1994, when a Republican wave swept Congress.

The mixed feelings are evident here in New York's Hudson Valley, where Nicole Rogers, a Democrat who voted for Obama two years ago, has yet to decide whether she'll support her congressman, John Hall. He is one of scores of Democrats in tight re-election contests in a potentially grim year for his party, which is trying to stave off Republican efforts to seize control of the House and possibly the Senate.

"My concern as a working mother is the economy, the future of health benefits and education," said Rogers, a 42-year-old from Highland Mills who works for an insurance company.

She counts her family lucky to have two incomes in these tough times - her husband works at nearby IBM - but she's finding herself doing more with less while her taxes rise.

"It hasn't changed. I mean, it's been two years and there's no stimulus, there's nothing. People are getting frustrated and rightly so," she said. Rogers said she'll vote for whoever can show her a plan for turning things around.

"They need to tell us what's going to change - how are you going to fix this?"

Unlike many men interviewed in this district north of New York City, Rogers doesn't sound angry or spiteful as she describes her concerns and what will determine her vote Nov. 2. She's just dismayed - and not sure what to do about it.

The same is true for Meg Robstad, a 55-year-old unemployed school administrator from Yorktown. She's as disillusioned as anyone about the state of the economy, which put her out of work and has led two of her adult children to move back home.

But Robstad, an independent who supported Hall in the past, said he's done nothing to offend her and she can't see what good would come from getting rid of him.

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