Conservatives Can—and Must—Engage Women

by Carrie Lukas

Republicans comforted by the close margin in last night’s loss in Virginia should particularly note that the gender gap (an estimated nine-point margin in favor of McAuliffe among women) was much smaller than the jaw-dropping, double-digit spreads that had been previously reported.

Writing in Politico, James Hohmann notes: 

This raises questions about whether women are starting to tune out “war on women” messaging and whether apocalyptic suggestions that Cuccinelli would try to ban common forms of birth control were effective at driving women to the polls who might not typically vote in an off-year.

This not-so-bad performance among women should be particularly encouraging, since it came in spite of Republicans continuing to allow the Left to dominate conversations about policy and politics among women.

Political hands lament the GOP’s failure to better market its message to women after every election loss. But just because this advice is consistently given doesn’t mean it is acted upon. As IWF’s executive director, Sabrina Schaeffer, explained in Forbes, the Left invests millions each year in women’s organizations that are in constant communication with women through grassroots groups, campus-based programs, and outreach to the media and opinion elites, which ends up shaping conversations about women and public policy. The women’s groups on the right are dwarfed by these feminist machines.

The good news is that conservative principles can resonate with women, particularly if they are explained properly, in terms that address women’s concerns, with an emphasis on how less government creates greater opportunity for everyone on the economic ladder and prevents the political corruption and back-dealing that rewards the politically connected. 

But conservatives actually have to make reaching women a priority for this message to get out and to begin opening women’s minds to supporting those principles and their champions. Or we can count on hearing the same discussion of the GOP’s woes with women around this time next year.

— Carrie Lukas is vice president for policy at the Independent Women’s Voice. 

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