The Republican Party Teaches Itself How to Talk to Women

You may have heard that the Republican Party currently has some problems winning the votes of American women—and electing them to office. In the words of House Speaker John Boehner:

“When you look around the Congress, there are a lot more females in the Democrat caucus than there are in the Republican caucus.”

This is definitely not the first time he’s noticed, because party insiders have been talking demographic “rebranding” since a 2012 election in which Mitt Romney lost the female vote by more than 10%. One part of their solution involves “tutoring” candidates on how not to address female opponents, which is important since at least 10 2014 House races involve a female Democrat challenging a male Republican incumbent.

What is it they have to learn, exactly, to win over a group that happens to make up 54% of the electorate?

Their primary goal is to avoid defeats like that of Todd “legitimate rape” Akin and Ken “ultrasounds and sodomy” Cuccinelli by avoiding the sort of gaffes that got those guys in trouble. The National Republican Congressional Committee has been quietly meeting with the aides of House members around the country to help them, as Boehner says, to “be a little more sensitive.”

After attempting to school House members running against women in 2014, one of Boehner’s wisely anonymous helpers told Politico:

“Let me put it this way; some of these guys have a lot to learn.”

Some are hip to the new swing, though: Virigina rep Scott Rigell says he ran for office because he was “concerned about our fiscal trajectory” rather than contentious social issues. That doesn’t explain why he voted against legalizing same-sex marriage in Virginia, but then he also refused to support the GOP’s famously homophobic candidate for Lt. Governor of the state.

So they’re getting there, but in case you haven’t noticed a whole lot of the laws passed by the House since the GOP took over in 2010 concern abortion, an issue on which the majority of American women do not agree with them. In another recent illustration of the issue at hand, a senior Virginia rep suggested the party deny funds to any openly gay candidates running on its own ticket. (And women support gay rights in even larger numbers than their male counterparts.)

We don’t want to make too big a deal out of this development, because nearly half of GOP voters belong to the female gender. But it’s worth noting that these guys still seem to think their problem is in the delivery rather than the substance of the message.

We might tell them that’s not the case, but would they really listen?

(Pic via Getty/The Telegraph)

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.
Publish date: December 6, 2013 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT