Republicans Losing Security Moms
WaPo is touting a new Pew survey showing that the so-called “Security Moms” are moving away from the Republican Party on page 1 of today’s edition.
Married women with children, the “security moms” whose concerns about terrorism made them an essential part of Republican victories in 2002 and 2004, are taking flight from GOP politicians this year in ways that appear likely to provide a major boost for Democrats in the midterm elections, according to polls and interviews. This critical group of swing voters — who are an especially significant factor in many of the most competitive suburban districts on which control of Congress will hinge — is more inclined to vote Democratic than at any point since Sept. 11, 2001, according to data compiled for The Washington Post by the Pew Research Center. Married mothers said in interviews here that they remain concerned about national security and the ability of Democrats to keep them safe from terrorist strikes. But surveys indicate Republicans are not benefiting from this phenomenon as they have before.
The study, which examined the views of married women with children from April through this week, found that they support Democrats for Congress by a 12-point margin, 50 percent to 38 percent. That is nearly a mirror-image reversal from a similar period in 2002, when this group backed Republicans 53 percent to 36 percent. In 2004, exit polls showed, Bush won a second term in part because 56 percent of married women with children supported him.
In its latest poll of the general public, conducted after the news from London broke, Pew found a majority voicing concerns that Democrats were too weak on terrorism, the precise charge Republicans have made over the past 10 days. Yet an even larger majority said they fear Republicans would involve the United States in too many military operations. The result is a public that is essentially split over which party can best defeat terrorists. Washington Post-ABC News surveys found the Republicans held a 30-point average on the issue of terrorism in 2002-2004. But in the past two years, the GOP advantage has evaporated.
Moreover, terrorism does not have the salience as a political issue it did two years ago. In the latest Pew survey, only 2 percent of respondents cited it as the top issue they want to hear candidates discuss — and that was after the news from London. Voters are less moved by sudden scares like that episode than they might have been two years ago, Kohut said.
I suspect the last point, combined with frustration over the Iraq War dragging on much longer than anticipated, is the key. While the margin has closed, the public still trusts the Republicans more than the Democrats on security issues. Unfortunately for the GOP, terrorism has become part of the backdrop now and less a motivating factor.