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In Arizona Republican Primary, Mitt Romney Holds More Appeal Than Rick Santorum Among Women Voters

In the Arizona primary, Mitt Romney leads Rick Santorum in polls, 43% to 27%. However, among Arizona’s women, Mitt Romney carries an even larger margin, carrying 46% of female support compared with only 23% in favor of Santorum. As in most of the country, Rick Santorum faces a significant challenge among female support in Arizona; his controversial comments with respect to women’s issues continue to take center stage in the media. As Republican-voting women make the critical decision of which GOP candidate to support, they will have to face several issues that Santorum has taken bold stances on.

Women in the Military

With 48,000 women veterans in Arizona and even more that are currently serving the country, Santorum’s position on women in the military is deeply important for Arizona’s female voters. And while he says that he wants to create opportunities for women to serve in the military, Santorum has stated his reservations about women’s emotional and physical capacity to handle front-line combat, stating, “I do have concerns about women in front line combat. I think that could be a very compromising situation where people … may do things that may not be in interests of the mission because of other types of emotions that are involved.”

He clarified his statements to mean that men would naturally have an inclination to be protective over women, which begs the question: shouldn’t men also be protective over their male comrades? Regardless, he sticks to his opinion that women’s role in the military should be questioned and limited.

Abortion

Garnering support from Republicans on a “pro-life” stance in Arizona should be relatively easy, but Santorum’s extreme views about abortion are far more conservative than most “pro-life” advocates dare to claim. Only about 68% of Republicans consider themselves to be “pro-life,” and Santorum’s statements that he believes doctors who perform abortions “should be criminally charged for doing so” and that abortion is wrong even in cases of rape and incest is probably much too extreme for most women in Arizona. According to a state-by-state poll, most Arizonans (56%) take a “pro-choice” stance on abortion, making Santorum’s job even tougher on Tuesday.

Working Women

In his 2005 book, It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good, Santorum makes the claim that “Radical feminists have been making the pitch that justice demands that men and women be given an equal opportunity to make it to the top in the workplace.” This anachronistic statement is damaging for Santorum in a state where more than 28% of firms are owned by females.

Prenatal Testing

Santorum has questioned the usefulness of prenatal testing, making the false claim that, “Amniocentesis [a form of prenatal testing] does, in fact, result more often than not in this country in abortion.” While it could be argued that he simply misspoke, it sends a message to women that even in the face of treatable diseases, their babies’ health is better left to chance.

Mitt Romney’s positions on each issue are almost universally more moderate and more appealing to women voters in Arizona. He opposes abortion but makes exceptions in cases of rape, incest, or if the mother’s life is in danger. He believes that women should have the right to prenatal testing. He has stated that women are capable of serving in the military (though he hasn’t made any specific mention of women in infantry).

In a recent poll, in Arizona, Republican voters, both male and female, reported that their candidate’s electability was most important when deciding on their preferred candidate in the primary. Looking at a mash up of candidates, female voters demonstrated that they would choose Obama if Santorum and Obama end up contesting the election. Forty-five percent of women would vote for Barack Obama, while 42% would vote for Santorum (with 13% undecided). Among men, only 39% would vote for Obama while 50% would vote for Santorum (with 11% undecided).

Romney has been accused of not “connecting with voters.” But in Arizona, with Santorum’s radical positions on women’s issues compared to Romney’s more moderate opinions, perhaps it is Santorum that is truly out of touch with female Republicans.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

 

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