What could the Republican Party do to help voters warm up to a man who some call stiff? Send in a woman! Which is exactly what they were trying to do when Ann Romney took the stage at the Republican National Convention. They had good reason to considering that according to exit polls over half the women voting in 2008, did so for Obama. The CAWP’s number puts it at roughly 56% of women voters, making it 13% more women voting for Obama then McCain. The CAWP also reported that in 2008, 7% more women voters selected Obama then did men.
Ann’s job in Tampa was to make Mitt more attractive to women. Unfortunately while telling the world what a wonderful man her husband is, she also alienated possible voters with her choice of language. “We’re the mothers, the wives, the grandmothers, the big sisters, the little sisters, and we’re the daughters.” Feminists were quick to point out that Mrs. Romney’s use of familial relationships to define women are in fact undermining women’s efforts in the workforce. The US Department of Labor indicates that in 2010 of the 123 million women aged 16 and older in the United States, 72 million are labor force participants. In other words, over half the women in this country work. I’m sure that comes as no surprise, but what may come as a surprise is that although women do use words like “mother” to describe themselves, many do not see that as their defining quality. This is especially true of women under 30, many of whom do not have children and have previously not voted with Republicans. The CDC reports that as of 2006, the average age for a first time mother was 25. Which indicates that women are focusing more on their careers and being financially independent before becoming mothers.
When Ann Romney attempted to connect with young working women, she again chose the wrong language to do so, saying over and over again “you” instead of we. Which is why younger women responded more strongly to Michelle Obama’s speech. Mrs. Obama focused on retelling the story of her and Barack’s courtship, including anecdotes like when Barack picked her up in a car so rusted out that she “could actually see the pavement in a hole in the passenger side door.” She spoke of the glass ceiling that Barack Obama’s grandmother hit when she was working at the community bank. Both are examples of the DNC understanding and using the language of young, working women. If the GOP hopes to draw women in, they need to change their language. This is where Ann failed.