As you know, Dems are gearing up a major 2014 campaign push to emphasize pocketbook issues designed to appeal to female voters — the minimum wage hike; pay equity; an emphasis on Obamacare’s protections for women. Now the Republicans Party is planning a counterattack.

But judging by today’s reports, the new GOP strategy appears to be largely cosmetic, with little emphasis on any concrete economic policy agenda for women — with the exception, perhaps, of the continued vow to repeal Obamacare’s protections for them.

The Associated Press hits all the high points of the new strategy. There’s a new initiative, “14 in 14,” to recruit women under 40 for outreach to other women to get them to the polls. GOP officials are also “encouraging candidates to include their wives and daughters in campaign ads.”

Republicans will also continue to highlight pay inequity on the White House staff, point out that women have suffered under the #Obummer economy (reprising a strategy that didn’t work for Mitt Romney in 2014), and, of course, continue to highlight the ways Obamacare is hurting people (without acknowledging the law’s beneficiaries).

Which again raises the question: Do Republicans have an economic agenda for women? Do they need one?

Republicans, to be sure, may win big in 2014 no matter what agenda they roll out, thanks to the map and other fundamentals (including the fact that unmarried women, a key constituency for Dems, tend to drop off faster in midterms than married women do). And Republicans are right to stress good old fashioned GOTV efforts — such organizing could matter as much as issues in getting out the right voters.

But as David Hawkings has argued well, the battle over the female vote has ramifications that go well beyond 2014. “No matter how many caveats and qualifiers are factored into the calculations,” Hawkings notes, “women are still paid measurably less than men for doing the same work. And the Republicans in Congress are steadfastly opposed to the legislative remedies they’ve been offered for closing the gap.” Meanwhile: “What has changed is the political gender gap, steadily widening and reaching record proportions — to the seemingly obvious and dangerous detriment for the Republicans.”

Democrats are actively building their women’s economic agenda around the broader idea that women face unique economic challenges. A recent CNN poll found that 55 percent of Americans, and 59 percent of women, don’t believe the GOP understands the problems women face today. A Republican National Committee spokeswoman recently admitted that Republicans need to do a better job appearing in touch with women.

Republicans oppose a minimum wage hike; oppose Dem proposals to address pay inequity (while admitting it is a legitimate problem); and are telling women that their economic prospects can be improved by repealing Obamacare (and its protections for women). Indeed, they are even telling them that the push for pay equity is nothing but a distraction from the health law. Yes, Republicans could win big this fall with such an agenda. But this could also prove another area where structural factors ensure that Republicans win in 2014 in spite of the failure to address the need — which they themselves have acknowledged — to broaden their appeal to women with an eye towards future national elections.


* GRIMES HITS McCONNELL OVER MINIMUM WAGE: Alison Lundergan Grimes lays out her position on the minimum wage, citing support for it by small business owners, noting that it would impact an increasing number of people with children, and pledging to make the raise her “first order of business” as Senator. She castigates McConnell’s opposition as the latest evidence he is the “Senator of yesterday.”

Dems view the minimum wage as critical for reaching downscale and unmarried women, who will be a pivotal constituency in the battle for Senate control.

 * McCONNELL CAMPAIGN SHOWING SIGNS OF “RUST”? Meanwhile, the Louisville Courier-Journal takes a look at the gaffes and missteps that have plagued the McConnell campaign, and notes that it appears “prone to hitting potholes.” Sure, maybe this is a problem, but as observer Larry Sabato points out to the Courier-Journal, the bigger problems is McConnell’s 65 percent disapproval rating in a recent poll.

* REPUBLICANS PLAN NEXT OBAMACARE ATTACK: Politico reports that Republicans are absolutely certain that the confirmation hearings over Sebelius’ replacement to head HHS will shower them with political riches. Here’s the grand plan:

The Republican message, according to one senior aide: “We would argue that there is no person on earth capable of making this horrible law work.”

Yep. As noted here the other day, Republicans faced with mounting enrollment are falling back on the position that Obamacare cannot work by definition.

* JEB BUSH COMMENT CONTINUES TO RESONATE: With the GOP jockeying for 2016 intensifying, Rand Paul offers a somewhat nuanced take on Jeb Bush’s “act of love” immigration comment, noting that it was “inartful” but offering this enormous concession:

“I don’t want to say, ‘Oh, he’s terrible for saying this.’ If it were me, what I would have said is, people who seek the American dream are not bad people.”

Meanwhile, Donald Trump, speaking to a gathering of Republican activists in New Hampshire, hit Jeb Bush’s comment, eliciting “groans and boos” from the audience.

* POLL SHOWS PRYOR AHEAD: Reid Wilson reports on a DSCC-commissioned poll showing Dem Mark Pryor leading GOP Rep. Tom Cotton by 48-45. Exercise caution, since this is a Dem poll, but two recent polls (see here and here) have shown Pryor with an edge, and national Dems do genuinely believe he is in somewhat better shape than the Beltway conventional wisdom has it.

* NUNN POSTS STRONG FUNDRAISING HAUL: Michelle Nunn’s campaign for Senate in Georgia will announce today that it has raised $2.4 million in 2014’s first quarter. Meanwhile, on the GOP side, the primary continues, and Dems continue to hope that the nominee will be a Tea Party GOP Representative like Phil Gingrey or, even better, Paul Broun.

* REPUBLICANS RESISTING MEDICAID EXPANSION IN VIRGINIA: The Post has a report taking a look at just how deeply entrenched opposition remains among Republicans in Virginia to the state’s version of the Medicaid expansion, putting them at odds with local hospitals and business leaders who for some reason think bringing in $5 million per day is the right way to go. One Dem aptly sums up the opposition: “Some feel this is their way of giving the finger to the president and the ACA. They’re whistling past the graveyard.”

Dems insist Republican opposition will crack eventually — which would be a big victory for Obamacare in a major presidential swing state, covering hundreds of thousands of new people.

* AND DEMS SHOULD HIT HARDER OVER MEDICAID: Brian Beutler on the Dem failure to make an issue out of Charlene Dill, a 32-year-old mom who died of a treatable heart condition while falling into the Medicaid gap in Florida, and what that failure says about liberals’ strengths and weaknesses in talking about Obamacare.

What else?