President Barack Obama holds the lead among women who vote with their checkbooks, even as his Republican challenger Mitt Romney seeks to narrow the gender gap at the polls.
The BGOV Barometer shows that 44 percent of donations to Obama’s main campaign fund, Obama for America, came from women, compared with 34 percent of contributions to Romney for President Inc., according to data compiled by Peter Brusoe, a campaign finance analyst for Bloomberg Government.
Similar splits are evident in the Obama Victory Fund 2012 and Romney Victory Inc., the candidates’ joint funds that share contributions with state and national party organizations. The numbers show Obama has broken with historical patterns in which men typically give $2 for every $1 women donate, Brusoe said.
“What’s unusual is how even Obama’s donors are,” said Brusoe, who analyzed statistics from campaign finance records and Social Security Administration data. “Usually men dominate the giving, often two-thirds to one-third. Romney’s typical. Obama’s unique.”
That distinction may not last long, because advocacy groups are having more success in persuading women to contribute, according to Jamie Pimlott, a political scientist at Niagara University, near Lewiston, New York, and author of “Women and the Democratic Party: The Evolution of EMILY’s List.”
“We’re actually seeing the beginning of a larger trend specifically in giving money,” said Pimlott.
Democrats currently have an edge in drawing donations from women because of EMILY’s List, which supports exclusively Democrats, and the Women’s Campaign Fund, which backs pro-choice women candidates. Eventually “I would think we’ll see it on both sides of the aisle,” she said.
Women supplied only 27 percent of total contributions to individual candidates in federal elections in 2010, according to an April study by the Center for Responsive Politics and She Should Run, a Washington-based non-profit that works to increase the number of women in public office. She Should Run is an affiliate of the Women’s Campaign Fund.
Obama’s edge with women donors comes on top of a substantial polling advantage he’s enjoyed with female voters. That’s in line with a trend of women favoring Democratic presidential candidates going back at least 30 years, according to Rogers Smith, a political scientist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
The gap first appeared as a reaction to the candidacy of Republican Ronald Reagan, who was supported by a coalition that included religious conservatives opposed to abortion, Smith said.
Romney has tried to appeal to women with ads that challenge the Obama campaign’s portrayal of him as a hardliner on social issues and by presenting him as the better candidate to address their economic challenges.
A USA Today/Gallup poll of likely voters released Oct. 15 for 12 politically competitive states showed Romney with a four percentage-point lead over Obama, 50 percent to 46 percent. In that poll, Obama had a one-point advantage with women in those 12 states, compared with a nine-point lead in the rest of the country.
That outreach to women was complicated this week when Richard Mourdock, the Republican candidate for Senate from Indiana, said in a debate that pregnancy caused by rape is something “God intended.”
Romney has endorsed Mourdock and appeared in campaign ads for him. The Romney campaign quickly distanced itself from Mourdock’s comment, saying in a statement that “Governor Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock’s comments.”
In 2008, Obama beat Arizona Republican Senator John McCain among women by 13 points, while winning the male vote by only one point.
The Bloomberg Government donor analysis compared the first names of Obama and Romney contributors through August 31 with first names in a Social Security Administration database. The Social Security office collects information on the first names and sex of babies, enabling researchers to determine the gender of most people with a particular name in the agency’s database.