If Democrats are going to have a fighting chance of taking back the House and holding onto control of the U.S. Senate in November’s midterm elections, the party must do better with single women.
That’s according to a new survey released Wednesday from Democracy Corps, the group headed by Stan Greenberg and James Carville. The numbers from Democracy Corps show Democrats with just a 17-point advantage with unmarried women—a marked decline from the advantage the party enjoyed in 2012 when President Obama won nearly 70 percent of single women voters.
“Off-year elections usually break one way or the other in the final six months,” Democracy Corps wrote in a memo released Wednesday. “Right now, the national congressional race is largely stable and tied, but Democrats are being held back by unmarried women, who now give Democrats just a 17-point advantage on the vote (compared to a 20-point margin in 2010 and a 34-point margin in 2012.) There is no bigger factor.”
The numbers underscore a larger midterm election issue for Democrats: motivating the party’s base. The way to do it, according to Page Gardner, president of Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund, is to target women with a message of economic populism.
“We don’t know yet how Congress will play out, but what we do know is that unmarried women want politics that is relevant to their lives,” Gardner said on a conference call detailing the poll’s results. “They want an agenda that focuses on them.”
When voters were exposed to a Democratic message on equal pay and what Greenberg termed an “in your shoes” populist narrative, unmarried women shifted from a +17 Democratic margin to a +31.
“The strongest attack that motivates unmarried women [to turnout] is when Republicans in Congress claim that women’s 77 cent to a man’s dollar is exaggerated,” said Greenberg.
The danger for Democrats, he said, is that single women are on track to turnout in even weaker numbers than they did in the 2010 midterm elections when the party lost its majority in the House of Representatives.