Women have emerged as one of the key factors affecting the political elections, but how will faith impact the way that women vote?
Women have come a long way from not being able to vote. During the 2006 elections, women outvoted men 66 percent to 62. It was also the women who showed a vast majority of support for Obama; 56 percent of women voted for the President while only 43 percent voted for Senator John McCain. By contrast, men were far more evenly split on candidates; 49 percent of men voted for Obama, compared to 48 percent who voted for McCain.
"Women have emerged as the pivotal voting bloc in the aftermath of the second presidential debate," the Associated Press reported on Monday. Their impact on swing state votes could all but change the election, prompting both candidates to find the best way to represent women's issues.
A "War on Women" Vs. a "War on Religion"
In the end, for some women, picking a candidate will have to do with their faith and the cross roads at which women's rights meet religious issues.
Women's rights activists have often considered healthcare in their fight for rights. Outside of abortion and the "woman's right to chose," having access to pre-natal health care and contraception are also important issues for many women. Obamacare offers promising options for women struggling with such issues.
But will women still side with Obama if it comes at a cost to their religious freedom? Romney has cited a "war on religion" in one of his most recent ads.
"President Obama used his health care plan to declare war on religion, forcing religious institutions to go against their faith," a narrator in the Romney ad states. "When religious freedom is threatened, who do you want to stand with?"
Obamacare was initially criticized because it required all companies to provide coverage for contraception with insurers covering out-of-pocket costs. Religious institutions were exempt, but not organizations with religious affiliations. A later compromise, however, resulted in some religious affiliations also receiving an exemption on a case by case basis.
Women on Abortion
Shirley Jackson, an 82-year-old Republican from Vienna, Va. and a member of the Red Hat Society, told AP that a surprising number of women are dismayed about Romney's position on abortion.
"He has lost a tremendous amount of support among women because of this decision," Jackson said.
When responding to an open-ended Gallup Poll in October about the issues that most affected them, women named abortion as a top priority in the elections. Over 39 percent of women believed that abortion was a top issue; 19 percent said jobs, 18 percent said healthcare, and 16 percent listed the economy.
Women on Family
Romney has fought back at such figures by proposing an economic plan that he claims will help women and their families in regards to immediate concerns such as groceries and gas prices. While this motto may not strike a chord with a number of women voters, for some women of faith, it might.
"Evangelical women, like Evangelical men, are concerned about issues that impact their families and themselves," Connie Mackey, the president of the Family Research Council, stated, according to "What Christian Women Want This Election Season", an e-book composed by Her.meneutics editors. "First and foremost for women is the economy and their families that are suffering because of lack of jobs."
Poverty as a Common Ground
The final strike may come in reference to poverty, an issue which a number of women have been vocal about from both right and left wings of politics. Overall, the church has suggested that a larger focus should be placed on "social justice" and not abortion. According to a 2012 American Values Survey, 60 percent of Catholics want a greater focus on social justice issues rather than abortion.
While speaking at the National Democratic Convention in September, Sister Simone Campbell echoed a similar statement, applauding Obama for his Affordable Care Act and reprimanding Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan for their individualistic standpoint.
"Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are correct when they say that each individual should be responsible," she said during her speech. "But their budget goes astray in not acknowledging that we are responsible not only for ourselves and our immediate families. Rather, our faith strongly affirms that we are all responsible for one another."
But if poverty is an important issue, it was the one thing lacking from the debates so far according to some voters, who have questioned why Obama has failed to address the issue.
"It was clear last night that Obama was prepared to take Mr. Romeny on, but he wouldn't take him on on poverty. For the life of me I can't figure out why that is," talk show host Travis Smiley told the Huffington Post."
"President Obama has done much more on the issue of poverty. The president does have a record of having done things right," Smiley added. "But that's not the standard for me. The standard is what he's gonna do in the second term."