By Melinda Henneberger
The Washington Post
The biggest reason Mitt Romney lost women, and thus the White House? All voters see trust as an important quality in a president, and that’s even more true of women voters. Yet a surprising number of the Romney-supporting women I talked to on Election Day did so in the hope that he had not been telling them the whole truth.
“He had to swing more to the right to win the nomination,” explained George Mason student Margaret Berkowitz, a first-time voter in McLean, Va., “and we understand that. They’re not going to overturn Roe,” she said, adding that “you just ignore those ads” that claim otherwise.
Gail Ulven, a 27-year-old pro-choice therapist who lives in Fairfax, Va., voted for Romney on the economy but didn’t believe for a second that Roe is on the table, either. Neither did Kathleen Prokay, a retired adjunct college professor in Charlotte, N.C.. “Not that it doesn’t bother me,” Prokay said of her candidate’s stated abortion views, “but sometimes you just have to make choices and compromises.”
These were spot interviews, of course, but they did, I think, say something important about why Obama won women 54 to 45 nationally, not so far off his 56 to 43 showing in 2008. Obama won women in virtually every swing state, besting Romney with female voters 51 to 48 in Florida, 55 to 44 in New Hampshire, 52 to 47 in North Carolina, 53 to 46 in Virginia and 57 to 43 in Iowa, while gender-based gaffes from Missouri Republican Todd Akin and Indiana Republican Richard Mourdock, without any question, lost those senatorial seats for their party.
Both candidates are branded as inveterate fibbers by their adversaries, of course: Cindy Beley, a 56-year-old advertising saleswoman in Conifer, Colo., thinks “Obama used scare tactics to try and make women think Romney would take away their reproductive rights. A president doesn’t have the power to do that,” added Ms. Beley, whose civics teacher could not be reached to comment.