Make Your Gift
Make Your Gift

Elections & Politics

Why Women Delivered Winning Margins in Races that Democrats Won: The Candidates Ran Pro-Choice Campaigns

Contact: Planned Parenthood Action Fund Media Office, 212-261-4433

For Immediate Release: 11.05.10

TO:  Interested Parties
 
FROM:  Planned Parenthood Action Fund, 212-261-4433

RE:  Why Women Delivered Winning Margins in Races that Democrats Won: The Candidates Ran Pro-Choice Campaigns

DATE: November 5, 2010


Overlooked amid all the postmortems about the 2010 election is the fact that women voters provided the margin of victory where Democratic candidates were able to win close races, and they did that because Democratic candidates campaigned on an issue women care about deeply:  protecting abortion rights.

In a tough year dominated by the economy, Democratic candidates in winning races widened the gender gap by highlighting their pro-choice credentials, as well as their opponent’s extreme anti-choice positions.

To put a fine point on it, in nationwide exit polling, Democrats lost the women’s vote by just one percent. But in several key statewide races in which the Democratic candidates highlighted their pro-choice credentials and won, the gender gap wassignificantly larger, typically double digits.

In a number of statewide races in which women delivered a significant margin, candidates and independent organizations made choice part of the winning argument, inserting it into debates, focusing on it in paid TV ads, hammering it home in mail brochures and phone calls targeted at women voters. In each case, the Democratic candidates were on the offensive, touting their pro-choice credentials and/or highlighting their opponent’s extreme anti-choice stance.

Here is a look at key statewide races, both Senate and gubernatorial, where the candidates emphasized choice in their campaigns. Also highlighted are independent campaigns undertaken by Planned Parenthood advocacy and political organizations:

In the Colorado Senate race, Michael Bennet won the women’s vote by 17 points. 

How choice was used in the campaign: 
The DSCC ran a TV ad in CO highlighting Buck’s extreme views on abortion.
 Watch

The Bennet campaign ran two TV ads on choice. 
 Watch on Bennetforcolorado.com
 Watch on Youtube.com

The Planned Parenthood Action Fund sent mail brochures to 156,000 
independent women voters on choice issue.

In the Washington Senate race, Patty Murray won the women’s vote by 12 points. 
 
How choice was used in the campaign:
The DSCC ran a TV ad on choice

The Murray campaign ran a TV ad on choice

Planned Parenthood Votes Washington and Emily’s List sent mail brochures to 440,000 independent women voters on choice issue.

In the California Senate race, Barbara Boxer won the women’s vote by 16 points.

How choice was used in the campaign:
The Boxer campaign ran a TV ad on choice

Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California sent mail brochures to 65,000 independent women voters on choice issue. 

In the Oregon governor’s race, John Kitzhaber won the women’s vote by 26 points.
 
How choice was used in the campaign: 
The Kitzhaber campaign ran a TV ad on choice

In the Vermont governor’s race, Peter Shumlin won the women’s vote by 7 points.
 
How choice was used in the campaign:
The Shumlin campaign ran a TV ad touting his pro-choice credentials:
Watch

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England Action Fund ran a TV ad on choice in the Vermont governor’s race:
Watch
  
As the Wall Street Journal put it last week: “Pollsters say abortion is a particularly effective issue. Unlike the economy, where positions are sometimes hard to distinguish, abortion can present a clear delineation between candidates. And, pollsters say, a candidate's abortion position can serve as a signal as to whether he or she shares a voter's values more generally.”

One overlooked takeaway from Tuesday’s election results is that the abortion issue helped the Democratic candidates when they made it an issue. In those races where choice was affirmatively used in paid communications, the Democratic candidate was able to increase his/her margins with women voters and win their race.

# # #

Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.