2008 record      


President Obama leads likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the latest IBD/TIPP poll, thanks to a gender gap. But Obama's large margin among women may be less important than his slim edge among men.

The poll shows Obama beating Romney, 46%-38%, with 10% undecided among eligible voters. Obama leads, 48%-35%, among women overall and a whopping 56%-25% among single women.

But Democrats have traditionally had an edge with the female vote. More striking is the fact that Obama narrowly leads Romney, 44%-42%, among men. Romney led this group, 47%-42%, in March, but Obama led, 45%-43%, in February, suggesting that Romney is vulnerable among male voters.

While the female side of the gender gap gets the most media attention, the male side is equally important. Men typical balanced out Republicans' losses among women voters. If Romney is going to win, he's going to have to reignite the GOP's bromance with male voters.

In 2008, Obama won the White House with the support of women, 56%-43% but only barely edging out Republican nominee John McCain among men, 49%-48%. That translated into a 53%-47% win.

In 2004, George W. Bush lost the female vote to John Kerry, 51%-48%, but won the election by seizing the male vote, 55%-44%. In 2000, Bush essentially tied Al Gore by winning men by 11 points, while losing women by 10 points.

"The gender gap is a permanent feature of our politics," said Karlyn Bowman, polling analyst for the free-market American Enterprise Institute. "Since the late 1970s or early 1980s, Republicans have done better with men and Democrats with women."

Romney's image as a man of wealth who has never gotten much dirt under his fingernails may be one explanation for his troubles with male voters.

Another explanation is that Obama is doing much better with his base than Romney. Obama gets the support of 87% of Democrats, but just 77% of Republicans back Romney. The gender gap appears in party registration too, with Republicans having more men and Democrats more women.

Lack of enthusiasm has forced Romney to spend months fending off GOP rivals Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.

Many of the media have attributed Obama's lead among women to recent controversies involving contraception and other gender issues. These began when the White House issued a policy in January that mandated all employers, including religious ones, provide health coverage that included contraception.

Catholic groups and Republican lawmakers objected. Other controversies followed, including radio host Rush Limbaugh calling a feminist activist a "slut."

The controversies may have boosted Obama, though IBD's polls only started matching Obama against Romney in February, after the furor began. Obama beat Romney by nine points among women, including 31 points among single women, back in February, roughly similar to April's results.

January's IBD/TIPP poll, though, found that women supported Obama's re-election by only a 48%-46% margin, and single women, 54%-38%. That does suggest a recent swing in his direction, though the economy and other factors could account for it.

The IBD/TIPP Presidential Leadership Index edged down 0.1 point to 50.7 in April, but held above the neutral 50 level for a second straight month.

AEI's Bowman cautions that Democrats' edge among women may not translate as readily into votes: "Younger women (and men) are less likely to vote than older people. So, even though the Democrats' edge among them is tremendous, it is not clear they will turn out to vote. Many single women are young, and again, it has been difficult to get them to turn out."

The GOP's lopsided losses among single women are offset by generally stronger support among married women, who are more apt to vote. In the April poll, Romney won that group 44%-41%. Obama narrowly led 43%-42% in March after trailing 41%-46% in February.

The IBD poll was conducted March 30-April 5 by TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence. It involved 906 adult Americans, including 782 eligible voters.

{jb_bluebox}Related Article:  Obama Leads Romney 46% to 38%{/jb_bluebox}
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