Reese Witherspoon baby, Obama Moms and more: Our parenting news roundup.

Reese Witherspoon's baby 'debut' is just one of this week's spotlighted stories. We also have Obama moms, the New Gerber Baby and a pregnant voter who went above and beyond. (And remembered to breathe.)

Joel Ryan/AP
Reese Witherspoon's baby boy, Tennessee James Toth, was spotted out and about in Los Angeles today with his mom. The celebrity press went crazy. This and other stories are part of our weekly news roundup. (Here, Witherspoon poses during a photo call for Mud at the 65th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, in May.)

It’s Friday, so time for our parenting news roundup. 

Yes, we'll get to the new Reese Witherspoon baby. But the big news this week, of course, was the election. Picking The Leader Of The Free World and all that.  But who knew how many family stories could be wrapped up in presidential politics? Check out our sampling here.

And the Walmarts have it...

We wrote about how President Barack Obama beat out GOP challenger Mitt Romney in securing the mom vote. (Fifty-six percent of mothers voted for Mr. Obama, according to exit polls, compared to 43 percent who went for Mr. Romney.) But we’ve since learned more about the voting patterns of a key faction of American mothers – the “Walmart Moms.”

As the Monitor’s Linda Feldmann explained in one of her news stories earlier this week, “Walmart Moms” are women who shop at Walmart at least once a month and have children aged 18 or younger living at home. They were seen by both political parties as a key voting block this year. Soon after the election, the research firm Public Opinion Strategies and Momentum Analysis – doing analysis for Walmart, we should note – found that Walmart Moms tracked more closely with the overall electorate than moms overall – 50 percent went for Obama, while 48 percent broke for Romney.

Those who said the economy was the deciding factor in their voting tended to go for Romney (66 percent) while those who picked health care as the most important issue in the election picked Obama (68 percent).  Those who cared most about education also went for Obama. Seventy percent of single Walmart moms and 56 percent of younger Walmart moms (age 18-39) also went for Obama.

Which brings us to....

Apathy? Says who? 

Before the election, most pollsters expected a low turnout from young voters and pundits had returned to their “what’s the matter with kids today” theme.

As the Pew Research Center’s Scott Keeter, director of survey research, explained to me earlier this week, Pew’s numbers showed that by the weekend before the election, only 59 percent of 18-29-year-olds were registered to vote, as compared to 72 percent in 2008. But Mr. Keeter also pointed out that slightly more young people – 79 percent compared to 75 percent – told researchers that they “definitely planned to vote this year.”

Turns out that was the part that mattered. Exit polls showed that young voters made up 19 percent of the electorate this year – one point higher than in 2008.

And they overwhelmingly went for Obama, 60 percent to 37 percent. This fits with what Obama supporters had been saying all along: that traditional polling under represents the opinion of young people because it does not reach those who live in a mobile world. In other words, if you don’t have a landline – the case for many young people, and particularly minorities – you don’t get polled.

Just think about that the next time you catch your teen texting. Hidden political activism, right there.

Breathe in...

But to see real commitment to the electoral process, check out the story of Galicia Malone, the Chicago area woman who was already in labor when she stopped to vote on her way to the hospital. This was the first presidential election in which Malone was eligible to cast her ballot (she is 21 years old), and she told reporters that she wasn’t going to miss the opportunity.

“This made a major difference in my life,” she told WBBM Newsradio. “And I wanted this to be a stepping stone for my daughter.”

So, with contractions five minutes apart (yikes!) she voted at the New Life Celebration Church in the suburb of Dolton.

“I was just trying to read and breathe, read and breathe,” she said.

And in other news....

Of course, there was more to life than presidential politics this past week. There was the New Gerber Baby.  After a nationwide Facebook contest, with more than 300,000 entries, Gerber picked 8-month-old Mary Jane Montoya to become the new face of the baby food line, and sent $50,000 to her parents for a college fund. The original Gerber baby model, now 85-year-old Ann Turner Cook, says she is delighted to be passing the crown.

And don’t forget mama-of-three Reese Witherspoon.  Just today – only a couple weeks after earning oohs and ahs for stepping out in postpartum skinny jeans (see our post from a few months ago on the trend of the celebrity “momshell”) – the actress got more breathless coverage for being spotted out in Los Angeles with 6-week-old son Tennessee James Toth.  “Reese Witherspoon Debuts Baby Boy!” the headlines screamed. 

It really wasn’t a “debut,” we’ll point out. The paparazzi just caught Ms. Witherspoon out and about, doing what moms do.  But still, we’ll take it. As we’ve said before, everyone loves babies.

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