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Posted: October 20, 2012 4:50 p.m.

Cushman: Women will drive election results

President Barack Obama may believe he had beaten his GOP rival in Tuesday night's town hall debate, but his 90-minute performance could not make up for his lackluster job performance over the past four years.

At their first face-off, Obama appeared aloof, disinterested and arrogant, as if he would rather be hanging with Beyonce and Jay-Z rather than engaging in a debate with a challenger.

Former Gov. Mitt Romney, who appeared engaged, knowledgeable and understanding, clearly won the first debate - drastically shifting poll results.

Obama's lead among women voters deteriorated as they came to understand that the GOP candidate not only cared about them, but could positively affect the area that they care about the most - the economy.

A USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday showed Romney pulling "within 1 point of the president among women who are likely voters, 48 percent-49 percent," and showed a lead for Romney "by 8 points among men" (Oct. 5-11, based on likely voters, plus-or-minus 4 percentage points).

This poll finding differs from what it was four years ago, when women voted for Obama over the GOP nominee, Sen. John McCain, by 56 percent to 43 percent.

Why is this shift important? Because women historically outvote men.

Four years ago, 70.4 million women went to the polls versus 60.7 million men, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In the battleground states, women outvoted men in 2008.

Based on these data, women matter.

So what issues do women most care about?

Watching the debate Tuesday night, and listening to Obama and his team, you might conclude that birth control and abortion are the most important issues on women's minds.

Not true.

According to a survey by Pew Research Center, more women (88 percent) said that the economy was very important. This was higher than any other issue. The economy was most often cited by men, as well, with 86 percent saying it was very important (survey conducted April 4-15, of 3,008 adults, with a sampling error of plus-or-minus 2.1 points).

Interesting that women, more than men, thought the economy was very important. But not surprising. Is it more likely that women or men pay the household bills?

Who feels the pain every week as they look at the price of gasoline that has risen from $1.84 a gallon to $3.75 per gallon since Obama has taken office? Women.

Of the 18 issues included in the survey, abortion ranked 15th, with 44 percent of women saying it was very important. Birth control ranked 17th, with 40 percent of women saying it was very important.

Obama has had four years to address the issues of the economy, jobs and health care, and has failed to resolve these issues. The economy is stuck in an anemic recovery, sputtering forward slowly and uncertainly.

It's the economy; it's jobs. Without a robust economy and without jobs, it's hard for anyone to get ahead.

During Tuesday's town hall, both candidates appeared engaged.

Obama delivered a better performance by being engaged and involved. Note: A terrible first performance makes the next average debate performance look good in comparison.

Romney focused on the failures of Obama's policies, delivering facts about where we are as a nation.

Obama focused on what he would do if elected to four more years in office and tried to ignore where we are after four years of his leadership.

But you, dear voter, ought to know what he failed to tell you, so let me fill in some key facts: If the percentage of people participating in the labor force were the same today as it was in 2008 (66 percent), and if the employment figures had remained the same, the unemployment rate would be 11.1 percent.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 66.1 million women were working in January 2009; today, that figure is 65.8 million. This means that 300,000 women who were working in January 2009 are now not working today.

Obama has presided over a government that has grown the U.S. debt from $10.6 trillion to $16.2 trillion, an increase of more than 50 percent.

It will take more than a good debate performance to convince women they are better off now than they were four years ago, when today gas costs more, there are fewer jobs and debt has increased 50 percent.

Women, more than men, understand that reality and record are more important than flowery rhetoric.

To find out more about Jackie Gingrich Cushman, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit creators.com.

 

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