Why Romney Is Difficult to Attack

Over at The New Republic, Alec MacGillis wonders if we’ve overstated Mitt Romney’s problems with women voters. The short answer, given Romney’s improvement with women over the last month, is yes:

It’s becoming clear that Romney’s lousy numbers a few months ago had a lot to do with the tenor of a moment that has largely passed. This explains why the Obama campaign is doing its darndest to remind women of the stances that emerged at that juncture (and yes, Ross Douthat may have scored a recent point in our running debate on this subject.) But it also suggests that the Obama campaign may need to rethink how it’s going about trying to keep the gender gap as big as possible. Polls show that the campaign is doing very well, at least as well as in 2008, with college-educated, higher-income women of the sort that presumably respond well to a social-issue, cultural critique of Romney.

I have my doubts about the Obama campaign’s ability to define Romney as regressive on reproductive health and other women’s issues. Despite the fact that he is a mainstream Republican on abortion, contraceptives, and reproductive health—i.e. anti-abortion and anti-access—Romney doesn’t read as a social conservative. You might disagree with him, but he seems reasonable; Democrats can accuse him of supporting extremist policies on reproductive health–which again, is actually the case—but it doesn’t ring true.

Between this and his moderate record in Massachusetts, Mitt Romney has emerged as a surprisingly difficult candidate to attack, at least in a general election.