With all the noise about contraception and mandates and Republicans hating women over the past week, one would expect the President to see some nice gains, right?
Too bad that ain't the case.
During the first few days of February, about a week before Obama declared a so-called "accommodation" to the contraception/abortifacient mandate, a Washington Post/ABC poll showed Obama's approval rating at 50 percent, with 46 percent of Americans disapproving.
Then, from March 7 to 10--a week into the national media firestorm surrounding Rush Limbaugh's degrading remarks about Georgetown Law student and liberal activist Sandra Fluke--Washington Post/ABC conducted another poll. It found Obama's approval rating at 46 percent, down four points from February, and his disapproval rating at 50 percent, up four points from February.
In February, Obama was leading Mitt Romney, 51 percent to 45 percent among registered voters. In March, Obama was trailing Mitt Romney, 47 percent to 49 percent among registered voters. The Post/ABC pollster finds that Obama "did better among men and women alike last month, and has lost ground slightly among both sexes this month."
The bottom line is that it's not clear at all that the fight over the contraception/abortifacient mandate has hurt Republicans. The Post/ABC pollster attributes Obama's dip in the polls to high gas prices. Of course, the biggest story in February was the mandate, so it's possible that the mandate is actually hurting Obama.
But if you read the Washington Post's report by Karen Tumulty this weekend on the GOP's slide among female voters, you'd think the new mandate was a terrible issue for Republicans. The report originally began with this sentence: "The fragile gains Republicans had been making among female voters have been erased by what in recent weeks has become a national shouting match over reproductive issues, potentially handing President Obama and the Democrats an enormous advantage this fall." The Post then backed up the claim that the events of "recent weeks" had caused the GOP to lose female voters: It noted that women favored Democratic control of Congress by 4 points in a Wall Street Journal poll last summer, but now favor Democrats by 15 points in a new WSJ poll.