Poll suggests women could be key vote in 2012 presidential election


by MARK WIGGINS / KVUE News and photojournalist KENNETH NULL

Bio | Email | Follow: @MarkW_KVUE


Posted on April 2, 2012 at 5:20 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 4 at 3:27 PM

AUSTIN -- In a race down to the wire, every vote counts.

A new poll by USA Today/Gallup shows President Barack Obama beating Republican front runner Mitt Romney among swing state voters for the first time since late 2011.

The poll suggests the reason in part is due to an increase in support from women under the age of 50, more than 60 percent of whom said they favor Obama compared to about 30 percent who said they favor Romney.

The same poll shows 41 percent of women identified themselves as Democrats compared to 24 percent who identified themselves as Republicans.

After weeks of demonstrations over issues like women's health, birth control, and Planned Parenthood, women voters on both sides of the debate are making their voices heard.

"I think it's been good in that while women already tend to be more likely to vote and more interested in participating in the elections as we see in voter turnout statistics, I think it definitely has had an impact on the interest in the upcoming election," said Julie Oliver of the non-partisan League of Women Voters of Texas.

While the polls can give a sort of overhead view, the view on the street can be a little more complicated.

"Generally speaking, a couple of things that women voters are going to be very interested in are the economy and the environment," said Oliver.

April Gonzales of Illinois told KVUE the economy was the most important issue in the upcoming election. "The economy and health care," answered Mary Guillen.

Tammy Stroud said her concerns center on energy. "Domestic versus foreign oil," said Stroud. "And changing that to where we don't depend on other countries for our oil when we have enough of it here."

Asked about the debate surrounding various women's health issues, Gonzales voiced disappointment in the GOP hopefuls' response to recent disparaging comments made by conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh.

"I think that the Republican nominees missed a great opportunity," said Gonzales.

"I'm conservative, fiscal conservative, so I think that it's a state issue," said Stroud. "It's not really a national issue about who controls health care."

"It's just too much back and forth," said Guillen. "There's nothing you can really stand on right now."

"I think the fact that the debate and the discussion has been amongst a group of men on these very women-oriented issues has caused some frustration among women voters," said Oliver. "They want to be able to participate in those discussions, and of course their way of participating is by voting."