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Mitt Romney, President Obama woo women (politically speaking)

President Obama enjoys a clear gender gap in key swing states, especially among younger women. Romney is fighting back with an emphasis on how women are doing economically.

By Staff writer / April 15, 2012

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney smiles as his wife Ann leaves the stage at the Celebration of American Values Leadership Forum during the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in St. Louis Friday.

Tom Gannam/Reuters

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War on women … Mommy wars … gender gap.

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At this point in the presidential race between incumbent Barack Obama and presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney, the focus is on two men arguing about women – how to woo them (politically speaking), who best represents their particular interests, which first lady reflects today’s American woman.

The gender gap is real, especially in the top swing states, according to a recent USA Today/Gallup poll, amounting to “a huge shift of women” to Obama’s side. (Swing states surveyed were Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, NevadaNew HampshireNew MexicoNorth Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.)

One can argue that both men face a gender gap. Romney leads among men by a single point, but Obama leads among women by 18, according to the poll. While Romney led overall by two percentage points a month ago in those states, Obama now leads by nine (51-42).

The biggest reason for the shift? Women under 50, who now prefer Obama 2-1 in swing states.

Opinion: How GOP can win more women voters

It’s probably no coincidence that these results come just after Republicans (and Romney to some extent) stumbled over contraception.

Romney himself said he wanted to “get rid” of Planned Parenthood, the major provider of reproductive health services in the United States. But then he had to walk that back, saying he just wanted to end federal funding of the organization. (Although critics tie Planned Parenthood to abortion, the organization says just 3 percent of its services involve ending pregnancies.)

Romney would like to change the subject from reproductive health care to the economy.

“The real war on women is being waged by the president’s failed economic policies,” he told supporters in Connecticut this past week. “The percentage of jobs lost by women in the president’s three, three and a half years, 92.3 percent of all the jobs lost during the Obama years have been lost by women. Ninety-two point three percent!”

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