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The Mother of Swing Voters

Security moms are protecting their children this election year.

By 10.18.04

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Security moms are merely a "repackaged version of 2000's Soccer Moms" -- one of the many "new, cleverly named and totally bogus groups of swing voters that emerge like cockroaches out of a drain" at this point in the campaign season, wrote Richard Morin in the October 3rd Washington Post. Security moms are imaginary pests to Morin, but he may discover that their bite is real.

The polls continue to show an ever-tightening race in which swing voters will factor heavily. As recent studies by the Pew Research center estimate that 22% of registered voters fall into the "swing" category -- and the majority of these voters are ladies.

Data from the 2000 election show a greater female turnout at the polls in general. Fifty-eight percent of eligible male voters cast their presidential ballots in 2000, while 61% of eligible women made it to the polls. According to Susan Carroll, senior scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, women are a larger proportion of the population than men and vote at higher rates, which explains why nearly 7.8 million more women voted in the 2000 elections than men and at least that many more women than men are likely to vote in 2004.

Many of these women, Mr. Morin, are security moms. "Security moms look at the world through the prism of their children," said Andy Kohut of the Pew Research Center. "In 2000 that meant they were focused on issues like healthcare, education, and -- to some degree -- the environment."

The priorities of voting moms appear to have shifted. According to its website, the Security Moms for Bush-Cheney -- founded by an unidentified "New York Security Mom" inspired by the tragic events of September 11 -- cite the War on Terror and a "future [for our children] that is safe from terrorists" as the most critical issues in the upcoming election. "Making America More Secure By Confronting the Threats of Our World" and "Protecting the Homeland" top the list of "decisive actions" taken "to improve the lives of women" by the Bush administration, according to W Stands for Women, a coalition group and arm of the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign.

"A recent poll by the Pew Research Center revealed that 76% of women with young children are more concerned with national security than they were prior to 9/11," Kohut has said.

These pro-Bush moms are mobilizing support for their candidate through campaigns that encourage women to write letters to the editors of local papers, make calls to local radio stations, host parties, and participate in a nationwide rally to be held October 16th.

"The presidential candidate who better recognizes and responds to the growing clout of women voters may well find himself in the White House for the next four years," Carroll has predicted.

Perhaps in an attempt to draw the "swing moms" over to the "security moms" side, the Bush-Cheney '04 team released a new campaign ad on October 10 entitled "Thinking Mom," which will be run on national cable and in select local markets. In the clip, the Mom voiceover speaks of running late and needing to get groceries as she laments tax increases on gasoline, Social Security benefits, middle class parents and married couples -- tax increases John Kerry voted to enact.

"More taxes because I'm married," the Mom says, "…what were they thinking?"

Softer Voices, a 527 organization of women who also back Bush, generated approximately $250,000 for a similar ad campaign in the battleground states of Pennsylvania and Ohio that began airing last Thursday.

"The defining question of this presidential election is clear: 'Who is the strong leader committed to keeping our families safe from terrorists?' This is the fundamental question women, in particular, must ask themselves before they vote on November 2," says Lisa Schiffren, a Softer Voices board member and spokesperson. "For a number of reasons, we believe the answer is undoubtedly that only George W. Bush has correctly addressed the issue of protecting our families from terrorism."

On November 2, the moms in minivans who drop their children off at the soccer field and then drive to the polls to vote for George Bush may decide this election.

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