The war on women may be just a little squirmy.
A new poll by the The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation shows that only 31 percent — three in 10 — of women surveyed in the United States believe there is a “wide-scale effort to limit women’s reproductive health choices and services, such as abortion, family planning, and contraception.”
Forty-five percent say some groups would like to limit reproductive health choices but their efforts are not wide-scale. Another 7 percent doesn’t believe that any effort to curb abortion or contraception even exists.
The poll divides between Democratic and Republican women. Thirty-six percent of Democrats said that there were efforts to limit women’s reproductive health care. While 24 percent of Republicans said such attempts exist.
However, the real dividing line is ideology. Nearly half of liberal women (49 percent) said there was a war on women’s health with only 18 percent of conservative women thinking the same. Liberal women see the restriction on these services as “bad” while only 8 percent of conservatives do.
When broken down among religious affiliation, 36 percent of Catholic women believe there are attempts afoot to curb women’s reproductive choices. But only 20 percent of Evangelical women feel the same. Another 30 percent of Christian (non-Evangelical) agrees.
As my colleague Mary Curtis wrote earlier this week, Mitt Romney is currently wooing women voters because of a shaky economy. They are concerned about money and jobs. That sentiment echoes the Kaiser poll which shows 60 percent of registered female voters, regardless of political party or ideology, are most concerned about the economy. Only 2 percent care about women’s issues and another 5 percent about abortion.
The white hot moment to point out the differences between Romney and Barack Obama on women’s issues like abortion rights and pay equity legislation has now passed. Obama may have very well won that short-lived war.
If the Obama camp studies the Kaiser poll, they will find that women trust him more than Romney on women issues. An examination by OpenSecrets.org also shows that 44.5 percent of his donors are female compared to 30.7 percent of Romney’s. All good news for the president.
Now the tide is turning back to the one thing that affects Americans regardless of gender on a daily basis — their bank accounts. It's now time for Obama’s reelection campaign and progressives to let the war on women cool and wage a major one on the economy.
The Kaiser poll was released a day before Friday’s job report which showed that employers added only 69,000 jobs in May, the fewest in a year. The unemployment rate rose to 8.2 percent.
James Carville said in Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign: “It’s the economy stupid.” After all, who can think about sex or birth control when you can’t pay your mortgage and feed your kids?
Suzi Parker is an Arkansas-based political and cultural journalist and author of “Sex in the South: Unbuckling the Bible Belt.” Follow her on Twitter at @SuziParker