Obama Loses Favorability Among Women Voters

President Barack Obama's favorability rating among female registered voters declined significantly after the week of the Republican National Convention. The women's vote has become central to both campaigns this election season.

In April, 57 percent of women registered voters gave Obama a favorable rating, while 39 percent rated him unfavorably, according to polling conducted by Langer Research Associates for ABC News/Washington Post. In the most recent poll, though, more women rate Obama unfavorably, 50 percent, than favorably, 46 percent. In an unusual twist, Obama's favorability is actually higher among men at 50 percent.

Rival Mitt Romney has improved his standing among women registered voters, but still lags behind Obama. Romney gained seven percentage points during the week of the Republican National Convention, from 34 to 41 percent, among women registered voters rating him favorably. His unfavorable ratings went from 55 to 48 percent in the same period.

For much of this election season, Democrats have charged that Republicans are waging a "war on women," mostly due to their opposition to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and opposition to requiring that religious employers with objections provide insurance coverage for contraception, sterilization and some abortifacient drugs.

The Republican convention sought to counter the Democrats "Republican war on women" narrative at their convention by giving Republican women prime time speaking slots. These included Sen. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Gov. Mary Fallin (Okla.), Gov. Nikki Haley, Ann Romney, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Gov. Susana Martinez (N.M.), and two women who served under Romney while he was governor of Massachusetts – Kerry Healey, who was lieutenant governor, and Jane Edmonds, who was secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Workforce Development.

In her speech, Edmonds described herself as a liberal Democrat and praised Romney for appointing many women to high level positions in his administration.

"One area where he made a positive difference is in improving the representation of women in senior positions in Massachusetts state government," she said. "Before Governor Romney took office in 2003, women were significantly underrepresented among top roles in government, with 52 percent of the population but just 30 percent of the jobs. Over the next two and a half years, 42 percent of the new appointments made by Governor Romney were women. In fact, based on a survey by the State University of New York, Massachusetts was ranked first in percentage of women holding top state positions."

Romney also made appeals to women voters in his acceptance speech.

Recalling the time his mother ran for the U.S. Senate, he said, "I can still hear her saying in her beautiful voice, 'why should women have any less say than men, about the great decisions facing our nation?' I wish she could have been here at the convention and heard leaders like Governor Mary Fallin, Governor Nikki Haley, Governor Susana Martinez, Senator Kelly Ayotte and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"As Governor of Massachusetts, I chose a woman lieutenant governor, a woman chief of staff, half of my cabinet and senior officials were women, and in business, I mentored and supported great women leaders who went on to run great companies."

The Democrats countered on Tuesday at their convention in Charlotte, N.C. About two dozen Democratic women lawmakers took to the stage led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who was the first woman to ever become Speaker of the House.

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America also spoke.

"Put simply, women in America cannot trust Mitt Romney," Keenan said. "We cannot trust Mitt Romney to protect our health. He would repeal Obamacare, taking away our access to better maternity and prenatal care, and the law's near universal coverage of birth control. And, we cannot trust Mitt Romney to respect our rights.

"He would overturn Roe v. Wade and sign into law a wave of outrageous restrictions on a woman's ability to make decisions about her pregnancy. Mitt Romney would take away our power to make decisions about our lives and our futures. But there's one decision he cannot take away – and that's the one women will make on November 6."

The Democratic Convention keynote speaker Wednesday night will be former President Bill Clinton. Obama will deliver his acceptance speech Thursday night.

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