Obama targets women voters in Seattle trip with talk of jobs, cupcakes

President Obama tried to energize women voters at a town hall meeting Thursday in Seattle. He's also set to campaign for Washington's Patty Murray and California's Barbara Boxer.

Susan Walsh/AP
President Barack Obama poses for a photo during a rally for Sen. Patty Murray Thursday at the University of Washington in Seattle.

As President Obama swings through the western US for an intense few days of campaigning, he appears to be targeting at least one particular group of voters: women.

Thus on Thursday he held a town hall meeting on women and the economy in the Foss family backyard in Seattle. He’s also holding a big rally for Washington’s Sen. Patty Murray (D), before he swings down to California to try to bolster Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) of California, who is running neck-and-neck with GOP challenger Carly Fiorina.

The emphasis on female voters can be seen in the report released Thursday by the White House Domestic Policy Council, titled “Jobs and Economic Security for America’s Women.”

It notes that women are now over 50 percent of US college graduates, and close to a majority of the US work force. At his Seattle town hall, Obama made the argument that as women go, so goes the nation, jobwise.

“How well women do ... will help determine how well our families are doing as a whole,” said Obama.

The White House gathered a group of female business owners for the Seattle meeting to try and help Obama argue that his policies have benefited women. They included the owner of a metal products manufacturing firm, and the owner of a specialty cupcake bakery.

Inevitably, including Jody Hall, the chief of a firm called “Cupcake Royale” in a campaign rally produced carbohydrate-based banter. Ms. Hall noted that a Small Business Administration loan had helped her expand her firm. But she also said that adding the flavor “salted caramel” on Obama’s Inauguration Day had really helped her business thrive. And she added that she had brought samples.

But apparently Obama never got them. “I suspect [the] Secret Service confiscated them and are now eating them as we speak,” he said at one point.

Why is the president making a special effort to reach out to women voters? Because they, like young voters, generally lean toward Democrats. A September Pew poll found that women favored Democratic congressional candidates by 3 percentage points – while men favored Republican candidates by 17 points.

That’s a big gender gap. But women also may be less enthusiastic than men about the upcoming elections. They share that lack of motivation with minorities and young voters, two other demographic slices of the electorate who generally lean Democratic.

"Virtually all polls show that these groups don’t feel they have much at stake in this election and are not especially enthusiastic about voting,” noted American Enterprise Institute polling expert Karlyn Bowman Thursday in an online analysis.

A recent NBC poll found that the female-male gap here is 11 percentage points. In other words, the percentage of women who said that they are enthusiastic about voting in the fall is 11 points smaller than the corresponding figure for men.

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