Friday, August 18, 2006

Security moms prefer Democrats by 12 points

When I read Sara Robinson's Part III about authoritarians and how to help them recover, I wondered if women would take the first steps up the ladder to escape over the wall. As Sara wrote:

Women, whose worldview tends to be more nurturant and relationship-oriented, may be more open than men to liberal points of view. Even those who've spent their entire lives in authoritarian systems get frustrated at times with their lack of power and privilege, the unfairness of the men who outrank them, and the overt bullying. In addition, women are generally less conforming than men, and more likely to reject one-size-fits-all moral systems in favor of ones they see as more just and fair.
People who are under stress without a support system -- college students, single mothers, travelers, prisoners -- are often open to anyone offering ideas for how they can increase their sense of security and connectedness. While this drives many of them straight into waiting authoritarian arms, it could just as easily become an opportunity for them to learn to trust their own inner authority instead.
Today's WaPo announced that Republicans are losing security moms:
Married women with children, the "security moms" whose concerns about terrorism made them an essential part of Republican victories in 2002 and 2004, are taking flight from GOP politicians this year in ways that appear likely to provide a major boost for Democrats in the midterm elections, according to polls and interviews.
This critical group of swing voters -- who are an especially significant factor in many of the most competitive suburban districts on which control of Congress will hinge -- is more inclined to vote Democratic than at any point since Sept. 11, 2001, according to data compiled for The Washington Post by the Pew Research Center.
Married mothers said in interviews here that they remain concerned about national security and the ability of Democrats to keep them safe from terrorist strikes. But surveys indicate Republicans are not benefiting from this phenomenon as they have before.
Disaffection with President Bush, the Iraq war, and other concerns such as rising gasoline prices and economic anxiety are proving more powerful in shaping voter attitudes.
The study, which examined the views of married women with children from April through this week, found that they support Democrats for Congress by a 12-point margin, 50 percent to 38 percent. That is nearly a mirror-image reversal from a similar period in 2002, when this group backed Republicans 53 percent to 36 percent. In 2004, exit polls showed, Bush won a second term in part because 56 percent of married women with children supported him.
Pew "found little or no advantage for Republicans in the aftermath of last week's foiled terrorist plot in London" and the fiasco in Iraq has damaged President Bush and Republicans at large. And there are more cracks:
In its latest poll of the general public, conducted after the news from London broke, Pew found a majority voicing concerns that Democrats were too weak on terrorism, the precise charge Republicans have made over the past 10 days. Yet an even larger majority said they fear Republicans would involve the United States in too many military operations.
The result is a public that is essentially split over which party can best defeat terrorists. Washington Post-ABC News surveys found the Republicans held a 30-point average on the issue of terrorism in 2002-2004. But in the past two years, the GOP advantage has evaporated.
I hope Democrats heed the news in this Pew survey. Now that we can see that solid law enforcement and intelligence uncovered the British terror plot--something John Kerry advocated in 2004--makes many of us wonder what on earth was Iraq about? Security moms have become disgusted with the Iraq War and
terrorism does not have the salience as a political issue it did two years ago. In the latest Pew survey, only 2 percent of respondents cited it as the top issue they want to hear candidates discuss -- and that was after the news from London. Voters are less moved by sudden scares like that episode than they might have been two years ago, Kohut [who directs the Pew poll] said.
A poignant quote comes from a mom with three kids, a 42-year Republican who voted for Bush and thought according to the GOP campaign spin that Kerry "would weaken the nation." Not anymore.
"I was dumb," she said. "Now, granted, they came here and rammed bombs into us, but I am afraid we have gotten into something full scale which perhaps did not have to be."
Let's reach out to these security moms and affirm how right they are. Who feels safe when it's terror, terror, terror, 24/7? It's enough to make a security mom tune out. And Iraq? What a nightmare!