Obama leads Mitt Romney 51% to 42% in the swing states in the April 2 Gallup Poll. A month ago, he trailed Romney by two points in those states. The astoundingly rapid reversal is easily explained... Romney's stand on contraception ticked off Momma. Conventional wisdom says, "When you make Momma unhappy, nobody's happy." Simply put, unhappiness will rule your world.
A further breakdown shows that women under 50 changed their support for the President from less than 50% just a month ago to more than 60%. He leads Romney two-to-one in this demographic, and that's enough to turn all twelve swing states to Obama's camp were the election held today. But there is even worse news for the Republicans. Romney leads by 18 points (56 - 38) in the over 50 male demographic, but by only a single point for all men. Meanwhile, the President leads among all women by that same 18 points, a gender gap beyond any in recent memory.
Sara Taylor Fagen, a Republican strategist and former political adviser to President G. W. Bush, said, "The focus on contraception has not been a good one for us ... and Republicans have unfairly taken on water on this issue," a disingenuous statement if ever there was one. After all, as soon as the Catholic Church decided to make a fuss about a contraceptive provision they'd been quietly living with in 26 states for years, every surviving Republican candidate, plus Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and every conservative blogger in the country jumped on the Church's side of the issue. Momma was not amused.
Having "taken on water" on the contraceptive issue, fairly or unfairly, whichever candidate becomes the nominee is going to have to start bailing immediately and back away from some pretty inflammable pronouncements. They will be busy explaining away not only their own statements, but those of the Republican Party in general and Republican leaders. They're not going to have a choice if they want to make up ground. Plaintive male cries of, "But we're right!" will do nothing to assuage the Republican female dystopia on this issue.
Generally speaking, despite the relatively extreme gender gap, and the constant warring among themselves, Republicans do not face an insurmountable wall (the President only leads 49% to 45% nationwide)... unless they make it so. A four point lead is not a big deal this early in a campaign.
But it's not just the contraceptive issue. The Republican candidates, as a group, have moved so far right that there is virtually no chance of cross party voting as things now stand, and Independents don't look to be a promising substitute. Unless the Nominee starts moving to the center, and smartly too, and the Party follows him, the President will hammer the extremism of the TEA Party and its control of the Republican Party like a tom-tom, and that beat will be the defeat of more than just the Republican Presidential Nominee. Romney may be able to make that move comfortably, but Santorum or Gingrich never will, and nobody would believe them if they did. Perhaps a candidate from a brokered convention could opt out of the whole business, but there's still the Party's role.
Whatever happens, everybody needs to remember... When Momma's not happy - nobody's happy: and Momma is definitely not happy today.