2012 Elections: Did Obama win the Battle for Mom?

2012 Elections: Winning 56 percent of voting moms, did Obama win the Battle for Mom? Only 43 percent of those moms casting ballots in the 2012 elections voted for Romney, who won the Dad vote with 53 percent of dads who went to the polls.

The Salt Lake Tribune/AP
2012 Elections: Obama appears to have won the Battle for Mom, with 53 percent of the votes cast by mothers, according to exit polls. Here Amy Deming (left) cast her ballot Nov. 6 as her son Max, 4, played with his V-Reader at Pony Express Elementary School in Eagle Mountain, Utah.

Initial results in the Battle For Mom are in.  And the winner, exit polls show, is President Barack Obama. 

(Sound familiar?)

Yes, 56 percent of voting mothers cast their ballots in Election 2012 for Obama, according to exit poll numbers reported by Fox News, while 43 percent picked GOP contender Mitt Romney. That’s about the same edge the president had among all female voters, which went 55 percent for Mr. Obama and 44 percent for Mr. Romney.

This, mind you, after a presidential campaign that put motherhood and apple pie even more front-and-center than usual. I mean, we even got the Mommy Wars involved, if you can think way back to some comments Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen made in April about stay-at-home moms.

And remember Ann Romney’s convention speech?  Not only did she “salute” and “sing the praises” of moms across America, she talked for quite a while about the trials of Mom – how she works a little harder than Dad, how she’s keeping the home front together, worrying more about kids and parents; how she is just so darned tired. Michelle Obama, for her part, reiterated her role as Mom-in-Chief.

So as the dust settles, the pundits will probably be spending quite a bit of time these next months trying to figure out why. 

Both sides of the aisle made a strong effort to court women, and moms in particular. As the Monitor’s Linda Feldmann wrote a few days ago, the group dubbed the “Walmart Moms” – women who shop at Walmart at least once a month and have children aged 18 or younger living at home – became viewed by both parties as a particularly crucial electoral bloc. They represent 27 percent of all registered women voters and 14 percent of the overall electorate.  And they tend to swing – for Obama in 2008, for the GOP in 2010 and now ... back to Obama?

The Democrats certainly hope that’s the story. But it’s probably too early to tell for sure. According to those exit poll numbers, married women favored Romney over Obama, 53 percent to 46 percent. As did voters who are married with children. (Forty-five percent for Obama, 54 percent for Romney.)

Dads also buck the overall mom trend, with 53 percent voting for the GOP challenger, and 45 percent voting for the president.

So what does that mean? We’re quite sure we will hear many theories.  But perhaps one takeaway is that motherhood in the United States today doesn’t necessarily look like Ann Romney, or any other version of a stay-at-home, married, dinner-cooking matriarch. Winning over Mom, then, does not necessarily mean winning over the married woman with 2.5 (or five) kids. It means a wider view of family, one that typically favors Democrats.

In the run-up to the election, we brought up a number of policy areas that advocacy groups say are important to parents, from maternity leave to child care to the availability of contraception. These issues tend to resonate even more strongly with single parents, and particularly single moms. While child care costs push many families to the economic edge, they push single moms under. 

Advocacy groups will be monitoring Obama's moves on these issues over the next four years. Because – while the current Battle for Mom might be over – we expect that this new, political, version of the Mommy War is far from over.

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