Obama held a 7-point advantage overall against Romney, a margin driven by his huge edge—19 points—among women in a recent ABC/Washington Post poll. National Journal’s Ron Brownstein has drilled down into several recent polls and found that Obama’s advantage specifically comes from college-educated white women, who “tend to be more open to activist government, but also more socially liberal—and the most likely to recoil from the staunch social conservatism on issues like contraception that has dominated the latter stages of the GOP presidential primary.”
The primary campaign forced the party and its now presumed nominee to take high-profile stances on issues like abortion (vowing to terminate Planned Parenthood funding), contraception (belatedly embracing the Blunt amendment), and immigration (“self-deportation”), which only exacerbate weaknesses he had with women and Hispanics anyway. There are other examples: Romney was forced to embrace the controversial, anti-union Ohio ballot initiative Issue 2, which voters rejected 61 to 39 last fall.
And given his reputation as a cravenly coreless political weather vane, conservatives, the media, and the Obama campaign will be ready to pounce on any effort to tack back to the center.