Women vot­ers and the econ­omy

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

As of Sept. 1, 40 per­cent of women said the econ­omy was their num­ber one is­sue, ac­cord­ing to a Fox News poll. A num­ber of polls since then have shown that women al­most al­ways make the econ­omy their num­ber one or num­ber two is­sue in the gen­eral elec­tion. There are many rea­sons for this, but pri­mar­ily women are the own­ers of about 9.1 mil­lion busi­nesses in this coun­try. More­over, the La­bor Depart­ment said the un­em­ploy­ment rate for women rose to 5.6 per­cent in Au­gust.

In some of the bat­tle­ground states, the econ­omy is show­ing up as the pri- mary is­sue driv­ing fe­male vot­ers to­ward John McCain and Barack Obama. In Florida, for ex­am­ple, 45 to 47 per­cent of women sup­port Mr. McCain, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent Quin­nip­iac Uni­ver­sity Swing State poll. Over­all, the econ­omy was se­lected by 49 per­cent of vot­ers as the top is­sue in the state. In Ohio, the top two voter con­cerns again were health care and the econ­omy; here Mr. Obama held a 52 to 43 per­cent lead over Mr. McCain. In Penn­syl­va­nia, 51 per­cent of the vot­ers said the econ­omy was the most im­por­tant is­sue. Mr. Obama held a lead of 51 per­cent among women in Penn­syl­va­nia.

The is­sues of econ­omy and busi­ness for fe­male vot­ers be­come far more in­ter­est­ing when the num­ber of con­tracts awarded to women by the gov­ern­ment is ad­dressed. For ex­am­ple, as of Au­gust 2007, the De­fense Depart­ment had awarded $2 bil­lion in prime con­tracts and $2.4 bil­lion in sub­prime con­tracts to women-owned small busi­nesses alone. In fact, women-owned busi­nesses con­trib­ute to the back­bone of our econ­omy by em­ploy­ing an es­ti­mated 27.5 mil­lion work­ers and by pour­ing in $3.6 tril­lion to the econ­omy, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Small Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion. In early Septem­ber the Na­tional Women’s Law Cen­ter called for the gov­ern­ment to “pass eco­nomic re­cov­ery mea­sures to help strug­gling fam­i­lies, pro­tect vi­tal state ser­vices and boost the econ­omy,” in re­ac­tion to high un­em­ploy­ment num­bers and gen­eral eco­nomic con­cerns.

It is cer­tainly true that fe­male vot­ers can make or break a can­di­date. (Re­call Bill Clin­ton’s pull with women in the 1992 elec­tion dur­ing the re­ces­sion.) Now, the ques­tion must be asked: Is the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion’s as­set-re­lief plan meant to soothe fe­male vot­ers to the Repub­li­cans?

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