November 7, 2012 — President Obama's victory on Tuesday was driven in part by support from a majority of female voters in key states, according to CNN exit polling, Politico reports (Schultheis, Politico, 11/6).
Nationwide, Obama received 50% of votes, while Romney received 48% (CNN, 11/7). However, Obama received 54% of the female vote, compared with 44% for Romney. In 2008, Obama received 56% of the female vote, compared with 43% for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
The advantage played a role in Obama's victories in key swing states. In Ohio, Obama led Romney 55% to 43% among women, compared with an eight-point margin between Obama and McCain in 2008. Obama also widened his margin of victory in Florida, leading Romney 53% to 46%, compared with a five-point margin last election. However, in Pennsylvania, Obama led Romney by 12 points -- 55% to 43% -- compared with his 18-point lead among female voters in 2008 (Politico, 11/6).
Emphasis on Social Issues
One key to Obama's success was the emphasis on social issues, including abortion and other women's reproductive health issues, in this year's race, Reuters reports. Nearly two times as many women as men say issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage are the most important factors in deciding their votes, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling. Women also ranked health care among their top concerns (Jacobs, Reuters, 11/6).
Exit polls also showed that a large majority of Latino voters support abortion rights. About 66% of Latino voters -- including 64% of men and 67% of women -- believe that abortion should be legal, while 28% disagree. By comparison, 59% of all voters -- including 58% of men and 60% of women -- support legal abortion, while 37% are opposed (Morin, ABC News, 11/6).
Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards stated in a press release, "This election sends a powerful and unmistakable message to members of Congress and state legislatures all around the country that the American people do not want politicians to meddle in our personal medical decisions, and that politicians demean and dismiss women at their own peril" (PPFA release, 11/7).
Meanwhile, Susan B. Anthony List said Romney should have been more aggressive in targeting Obama on abortion rights, contraceptive coverage and the president's support for Planned Parenthood. Romney's emphasis on economic issues "was a strategic error that resulted in a winning margin of pro-life votes being left on the table," SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 11/7).