What Women Want: Women Voters in Iowa

Nov 5, 2012

During the contentious political race between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney—both candidates have targeted many groups—undecided voters, minority voters, young voters, older voters—but perhaps no voter bloc has been more sought after than women.  Iowa Public Radio’s Sandhya Dirks takes at a look women in this election. 

You remember soccer moms, and hockey moms? Well this year brought a new mom into the political spotlight: The waitress mom.  The recession has left women struggling and those working in the service industry are in the spotlight. Really, all mothers, and women, are being targeted for their vote.  Just ask Christie Taylor. She co-hosted a debate watch party in Des Moines as part of the Women for Mitt campaign. She says as a women she gets asked certain questions, And as a woman I sometimes get asked how would I vote on certain social issues.  Am I pro-life, and am a pro-choice, am a pro child, well of course I am pro taking good care of children. And of course I want health care for people, and of course I want good education, but I think this is about getting people back to work, and then lowering our debt. I think that no matter you sit on some of those other issues, this isn’t the time. Frankly we’ve just got bigger fish to fry."

Women gather at a
Credit Sandhya Dirks

Statistically, women tend to vote more liberally. But GOP spokesperson Tom Szold says, the democrats are using so called women’s issues to distract from the economy, "they try to scare women into thinking that Mitt Romney is trying to illegalize, you know, birth control and take away all kinds of rights. And they just try to talk to talk about anything but the actual issues. And  women are insulted by that, because they want to taken as seriously as men, and the economy is one of the most serious issues possible."

When asked about Governor Mitt Romney’s stance on abortion Szold said Romney’s been pretty clear, he believes abortion should be legal in cases of incest and rape. But when pressed further he said he said it was difficult, "it’s tough for me to get into the weeds right now. But I mean this is exactly the issue.  This is something that can be fought about later, but the economy is what people are talking right now.  It’s just a distraction."

But the Obama campaign's Erin Seidler says Republican's have used single issue voters to mobilize there base for years, "Republicans have used issues like choice, on women’s health care, like reproductive rights, to mobilize a certain part of their base."

Seidler is talking about single issue voters, voters who vote solely on abortion or gay marriage. Seidler says it’s disingenuous of republicans to sweep social issues to the side when it’s convenient, and ask women to be single issue voters on just the economy, "you can’t separate woman’s health care, and access to health and access to reproductive rights from the economy. And you can’t separate fair pay from the economy. So republicans are missing the point."   

Women campaign for Obama

Seidler says women can’t just peel apart the economy from their everyday lives, and she says a lot of women are tired of having to defend rights that have already been upheld by courts and culture. She says women across the board—single women, soccer moms, and those who are described as waitress moms.

Its closing time at Waveland café in Des Moines and  Glenna Hays is closing out her shift, cleaning tables and restocking condiments. Hays says it’s hard to  have faith in the political process but she also says, she depends on the government to help her out,"I’m not gonna lie, I’m a single mother, I work, I go to school, and both of my children are on Medicaid. Like I said my daughter was born with a cleft palate, so if it wasn’t for the assistance of Medicaid and the state helping me, I’d be in debt. I mean she’s probably had over 300,000 dollars worth of surgery since she was born. So where would I be as a w…  I mean my moneys good but not that good."

Hays says she also thinks women should be able to decide on issues like abortion, and this year she is voting for President Barack Obama. But she says at heart she is not sure either candidate can really help out a working woman like herself. In Des Moines, I’m Sandhya Dirks, Iowa Public Radio news.