The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Republicans’ woman problem — and how they might be able to solve it

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Democrats spent much of the 2012 election arguing that Republicans were conducted a "war on women" -- citing comments about rape made by two of the party's Senate candidates as well as Mitt Romney's support for defunding Planned Parenthood.

It worked -- as documented vividly in a series of infographics put together by the Revolution Agency, a Republican consulting firm.  (You can check out the whole slide deck here.)

"The first step is admitting we have a problem," said Bob Honold, a partner with Revolution and a former senior aide at the National Republican Congressional Committee, explaing why his company put together the presentation.

The basics are now familiar to almost anyone paying attention to politics.  Women comprised 53 percent of the 2012 electorate and President Obama won them by 11 points over Mitt Romney. Obama won 7.7 million more female votes than Romney, while winning the overall popular vote by 5 million (or so) votes.

In the swing states, the story was the same.   A look at 14 swing(ish) states, shows that in nine of them (Iowa, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Nevada, New Mexico , Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) President Obama carried women by double digits.

Obama's edge over Romney among women was, like his advantage with the electorate more broadly, built on his massive margins among black and Hispanic women.

As Revolution notes, Romney actually outperformed George W. Bush among white women -- he won 56 percent to Bush's 55 percent -- but a) white women made up three percent less of the 2012 electorate than they did in 2004 and b) Obama won Hispanic women, who made up six percent of the electorate, by 53 points and Afircan American women, who comprised eight percent of the electorate, by 93 points. Bush lost women overall by three points in 2004 while Romney lost them by almost three times as much.

The solution to what ails Republicans among women? According to Revolution, it's consolidating their strengths among married white women and trying to broaden their appeal among Hispanic and black married women.  (Romney won married women with 53 percent but lost single women by 36 points.)

Of course, winning over minority voters -- especially married women -- is easier said than done for the GOP. The party remains riven between a more pragmatic establishment who wants to cut a deal on immigration and spend less time talking about social issues and gay marriage and the conservative base of the party who, well, doesn't.