Security moms no more?

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Political pollsters have a knack for devising catchy phrases to characterize and categorize American voters. Examples from recent elections include the angry white male, the soccer mom, the security mom, and the NASCAR dad.

This 2006 political season, however, there's a debate as to whether one of these groups actually exists: the much-ballyhooed security mom. She is the middle-class, suburban mother with children at home. In 2004, she was the prototypical swing voter who normally leaned Democratic but who voted for President Bush instead, or so pollsters told us. Her vote was swayed by a vision of Republican superiority in the war on terrorism, after the attack on the World Trade Center.

Last week the Washington Post reported on new Pew Research Center data showing that "this critical group of swing voters--who are an especially significant factor in many of the most competitive suburban districts on which control of Congress will hinge--is more inclined to vote Democratic than at any point since Sept. 11, 2001."

OK, interesting. But not so, says the American Political Science Association in a recent press release. The security mom never existed in the first place, according to research by Karen M. Kaufman of the University of Maryland. The APSA release states, "Mothers with children at home were no more likely to vote for Bush in 2004 (49 percent) than in 2000 (50 percent), debunking the widespread security-mom theory. The more important story of the 2004 election, according to Kaufman, was a regional one where "southern white women moved to the Republican Party... in much higher proportions than in the recent past." So much for security moms.