The fight for the “working women” in the Presidential campaign began in earnest last week with Hilary Rosen’s claim that Ann Romney is “out of touch with women’s issues” because, while Mrs. Romney is nice woman and to be admired for raising a family and overcoming a disease, she just has no experience with the economic issues women are facing since she has “never actually worked a day in her life.” Understanding their voting power, Ms. Rosen comments were directed at women, who constitute 46 percent of the workforce and 52 percent of the voters.
The aggregate power of women voters will ultimately determine the message "niches" used in the 2012 White House bid. Ms. Rosen’s “wedge-driving” remarks are clearly aimed at the marketing niche of working women, in an effort to alienate this significant voting block from Ms. Romney.
Rosen’s statements would be amusing, if they weren’t so offensive. Ms. Rosen is a campaign strategist for the president, and certainly understands the consequences of her comments. She must also have calculated that the Democratic Party—the party that hails itself as the party of “choice” for women—has taken Ms. Romney’s choice of homemaker as a career, the path of board membership on civic and political organizations, the life of volunteer service (impacting lives of women and children through equine therapy, literacy outreach, and sports programs for children with severe disabilities) and devalues the woman and these significant and meaningful contributions.
Ms. Rosen attempted to create a “we vs. they” scenario by vilifying Ms. Romney’s choice as a homemaker, and making her appear “lesser than” the “working” woman.
Mobilizing the coveted universal, married and working woman is challenging, as this universe transcends traditional segmentation and crosses over socio-economic strata. No matter what explanation is provided, in the name of work/life balance, many women in this category do not fully and consistently “lean into” politics in the same fashion as men. At some point many women stop demanding ideological politics because the “realities of life” carry a series of other demands.
Ms. Rosen attempted to polarize working women against Ms. Romney by saying Ms. Romney “never actually worked a day in her life.” The message here is that by not working somehow Ms. Romney is “out of touch” with the day-to-day struggles of the working woman. Because the economy ranks highest in the wheelhouse of concerns for working women, one can only conclude these comments were purposeful and calculated. In light of a recent report from the Pew Research Center that found "women represent the only group for whom employment growth has lagged behind population growth in the recovery."
By differentiating Ms. Romney, Rosen implied that Republicans do not understand the struggles of working women and therefore cannot represent them as well as their counterparts.
John Sculley, former President of Pepsi and CEO of Apple once said, "No great marketing decisions have ever been made on qualitative data."
Numbers show that wedge issues in niche, female-centric markets, will continue to dominate the female vote. Politics is the war of moving numbers and the flexibility to message to women depends largely on understanding their complexities and real concerns. Ms. Rosen’s comments are made to strip the GOP of a strong and credible female voice by painting it as “out of touch” with real women, who are the backbone of both parties. Every woman should understand the strength of her voice. The travesty with this latest attempt at dividing women is that no one wins.
Palladian View, the digital magazine for the conservative Republican woman.