Can Republicans Regain Women Voters?

Recent polls show Barack Obama growing his lead over Mitt Romney among swing state female voters.

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A recent USA Today/Gallup poll shows that Obama's lead among women is growing. He bests former Gov. Mitt Romney, the front-running GOP presidential candidate, 54 to 36 percent among women in the dozen swing states on which the poll focuses. The president's popularity among women secures his overall advantage over Romney, carrying 51 percent of general voters to Romney's 42 percent in those swing states. Ken Walsh reckons, "Much of the erosion in GOP support among women, pollsters say, is due to the Republican focus on social issues, such as limiting the availability of contraceptive services at medical facilities affiliated with religions that oppose those services." The Gallup poll is not the only recent study showing that the debates over contraceptive coverage have helped Obama with women. Looking at data from focus groups sponsored by Resurgent Republic, Peter Roff notes, "Women seem to agree that the recent national debate over the Obamacare mandate that employer-provided health insurance include coverage for birth control methods including sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs was more about women's health than it was about religious liberties."

[ See a collection of political cartoons on the Catholic contraception controversy.]

However, that doesn't mean the GOP should give up on women just yet. Roff points out that suburban women still feel don't feel confident about the economy, despite the improving figures. According to the Resurgent Republican study, suburban women "expressed their most hesitation with President Obama when considering the totality of economic figures ranging from when he took office to today." And this is just the issue the GOP should be focusing on, according to Mary Kate Cary in her " Five Ways the GOP Can Woo Women:" 

More women than ever before are small business owners, and many are the breadwinners in their families. As the ones who are more likely to be paying the bills and making healthcare decisions, women are particularly concerned with the size, scope, and cost of government. Time to unveil a common-sense economic plan for reining in spending, simplifying the tax code, reducing the deficit, and reforming entitlements.

[ See a collection of political cartoons on the economy.]

If Mitt Romney does sweep Wisconsin, D.C., and Maryland in Tuesday's primary, as analysts expect, perhaps he can begin focusing on the general election by shifting the conversation back to the economy—considered his strongest attack against Obama—and regain some of the female vote. However, the continued presence in the GOP race of former Sen. Rick Santorum—the most outspoken in his conservative views on social issues—might make such a transition difficult just yet.

What do you think? Can Republicans regain women voters? Take the poll and comment below.

This poll is now closed, but the debate continues in the comments section.

Previously: Will Kate Couric or Sarah Palin Make a Better Morning TV Host?