A notable finding in a new AP-GfK poll:
Women have moved in the GOP's direction since September. In last month's AP-GfK poll, 47 percent of female likely voters said they favored a Democratic-controlled Congress while 40 percent wanted the Republicans to capture control. In the new poll, the two parties are about even among women, 44 percent prefer the Republicans, 42 percent the Democrats.
In contrast, the poll found that among men, Republicans' double-digit advantage hardly changed from their September survey, with 50 percent backing Republicans.
I reached out to our polling guys, Scott Clement and Peyton M. Craighill, for some guidance. They pointed out that in the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll there was also a similar finding, with Republicans neutralizing Democrats' traditional advantage on the generic ballot among women, 47 percent of whom supported Democrats with 46 percent backing Republicans.
And if you look at the chart below, it matches what happened in the 2010 midterms, when Republicans won big in part because they were able to erase the typical edge that Democrats have among women voters. In 2010, unmarried women did back Democrats, but by slightly smaller margins than usual, and married women leaned more strongly Republican than in past years.
(The data in 2002 had some problems, so we don’t have confidence in those numbers).
According to the AP-GfK poll, Republicans have broadly gained ground among women in the last month. And in at least one Senate race, that same trend is apparent. Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner (R) actually led narrowly among women in a Suffolk University poll released Wednesday. While that seems a little suspect, other polling has also shown him narrowing the gap among women to varying degrees -- enough to show a slight lead in the overall race.
But, there are other contested races where Democrats are holding strong among women. In New Hampshire, for instance, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) still holds a steady 10-point lead among women over Scott Brown in the latest CNN/ORC poll. She led by nine among women in another poll this week, from Suffolk.
The Democratic advantage with women is also shows up in a new Pew poll, which projects a better forecast for Democrats on the generic ballot:
So, what do we make of this? For Democrats, a clear advantage among women in both presidential and midterm elections has just been a fact of life -- and a requirement for winning. But in 2010 they saw a reversal.
If Republicans were able to mitigate that historical advantage, they'd be on-track for a huge election. It's not clear at this point whether that's the case, but the overall more conservative tilt of the electorate does favor Republicans. And the numbers on women suggest 2014 is going to look a lot closer to 2010 when it comes to the women's vote.
"A one point lead is not good enough obviously. We need to win women by more than we lose men and we have to have women turnout out," said Democratic pollster Celinda Lake in an e-mail. "We didn't always do well in midterms. In part it depends on who is president. 1994 was a disaster."