To go back to The Washington Post poll for a moment, there is a little good news if the Obama administration is still fretting over its handling of the contraception mandate.
By a margin of 61 percent to 35 percent, Americans believe that health insurers should be required to cover the full cost of birth control for women. This even extends to religious-affiliated employers—like hospitals—which were the focal point of the controversy. According to the poll, 79 percent of those who support the birth-control mandate also support it for religious-affiliated employers.
Now that the controversy is over, for the most part, it’s obvious that this is good territory for the administration, and they should continue press their advantage. Already, as The New York Times reports, Republican missteps have created an opening for Obama to improve his standing with moderate and Republican-leaning women. Indeed, as the year goes on, I expect that this view will become a little more prevalent:
“We all agreed that this seemed like a throwback to 40 years ago,” said Ms. Russell, 57, a retired teacher from Iowa City who describes herself as an evangelical Christian and “old school” Republican of the moderate mold. Until the baby shower, just two weeks ago, she had favored Mitt Romney for president.
Not anymore. She said she might vote for President Obama now. “I didn’t realize I had a strong viewpoint on this until these conversations,” Ms. Russell said. As for the Republican presidential candidates, she added: “If they’re going to decide on women’s reproductive issues, I’m not going to vote for any of them. Women’s reproduction is our own business.”
In the same way that Democrats should avoid preemptive celebration, Republicans should proceed with caution. It’s one thing to alienate single women, who lean Democratic anyway. It’s something else entirely to scare suburban white women from the GOP coalition. In a world where that happens, it’s hard to imagine Republican control of anything, much less the White House.