Over time, there hasn't been much shift in women's views of the Democratic Party, but views of the GOP have become more polarized since the AP last asked about the issue in January 2011. Thirty-nine percent of Republican women hold a "very favorable" view of the party, compared with 27 percent a year ago. At the same time, 57 percent of Democratic women now give the GOP a deeply unfavorable rating, the first time that figure has topped 50 percent.
Republicans insist their objections to Obama's policy on birth control coverage are about government infringing on the freedom of religion, not about contraception, which is supported by a broad majority of Americans.
But Santorum also says, as he has for years, that contraception conflicts with his Roman Catholic beliefs.
"Well, I'm a Roman Catholic, too," said Speyerer. She recalls that in 1940s New Orleans, where she was born and married, it was illegal to publish anything about birth control, "and I don't want to see that happen again."
Democrats already have sought to capitalize on that sentiment, holding a faux hearing last week with a single woman denied the chance to testify about contraception to a Republican-controlled House committee.
There will be more of that this week. Senate Democrats have agreed to debate a measure by Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri that would allow health plans to deny coverage for any service that violates the sponsor's beliefs. And on Thursday, a coalition of women's groups called HERvotes is holding a news conference in Washington to protest the renewed questioning of long-established rights for women.
The AP-GfK poll was conducted Feb. 16-20 by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. It involved landline and cellphone interviews with 1,000 adults, including 485 women. Results from the full sample have a margin of sampling error of 4 percentage points. Among women, the margin of error is 6 points.
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