In America the Republican party is not having a good summer. While Mitt Romney's pick of vice presidential running mate, Paul Ryan, has motivated the grassroots it is uncertain whether Ryan will help secure the White House. Recent polls are mixed in key swing states. The hoped for bounce hasn't materialised.
What may end up even more significant in deciding the election is the role of women. After Republican congressman Todd Akin's botched TV interview on Sunday, when he said that a woman's body is capable of
preventing pregnancy in cases of "legitimate rape", the Democrats have scented blood.
Whoever coined the phrase "War on Women" to apply to Republican politics may have won Obama a second term despite American's luke warm feelings toward him. Type into Google "War on Women" and a cascade of terrible coverage for the Republicans arrives. There is even a website Stop the War on Women with a powerful call to action for women to sign up against what is described as "Republican policies".
In any election there are rows which come and go, many seeming like game-changers which then descend into little more than footnotes when the campaign history is written. War on Women, in my opinion, is a game-changer for three reasons:
1. In the past 5 US presidential elections women were more likely to vote for the Democrat candidate and also much more likley to approve of the performance of Bill Clinton as president (despite Monica). Therefore it can be assumed Romney already had a mission on his hands to win over women voters. With this election assumed to be won or lost by soft party-aligned voters and neutrals this historical data signals War on Women to be a row which will disproportionally help Obama.
2. Women are more likely to vote. The Centre for American Women and Politics states "Women, who constitute more than half the population, have cast between four and seven million more votes than men in recent elections. In every presidential election since 1980, the proportion [of] female adults who voted has exceeded the proportion of made adults who voted."
3. War on Women is catchy. It is easy to fit into almost any 7-15 second soundbite. It is all encompassing - or I bet it will be by the end of August when Democrats find numerous "examples" of why Republican policies don't help women. It is already being repeated by third party sources such as journalists and commentators meaning it will begin to stick in the public consciousness.
How will Romney and the Republicans fight back? In my mind it is already too late.