Despite a concerted effort
to win back women after the last presidential election, female voters still view Republicans as "intolerant" and "lacking in compassion" and "stuck in the past," a report commissioned by two GOP groups has found.
"Republicans and Women Voters: Huge Challenges, Real Opportunities," commissioned by Crossroads GPS and American Action Network, includes data from eight focus groups and a poll of 800 registered female voters, Politico reports.
"The gender gap is hardly a new phenomenon, but nevertheless it's important for conservatives to identify what policies best engage women, and our project found multiple opportunities," American Action Network spokesman Dan Conston told Politico.
"It's no surprise that conservatives have more work to do with women."
Added Paul Lindsey, spokesman for the Karl Rove-backed Crossroads GPS:
"There are a number of House policymakers and staff who have been willing to focus on issues important to women, and we think it's important that they are aware of the policy solutions that are available to help address these concerns."
According to Politico, which said it obtained an internal memo on the report, the report suggests that solutions include: go after Democratic charges that the GOP doesn't support "fairness" for women; "deal honestly with any disagreement on abortion, then move to other issues"; and "pursue policy innovations that inspire women voters to give the GOP a 'fresh look.'"
There's a lot to fix: the report says 49 percent of women view Republicans unfavorably; 39 percent view Democrats unfavorably.
The GOP has had initiatives aimed at women. Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, the No. 4 House Republican, is spearheading one such effort, Politico notes.
Andrea Bozek, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, told Politico the party's candidates "across the country are speaking directly to female voters both on the campaign trail and in their television ads."
But focus groups "believe that 'enforcing equal pay for equal work' is the policy that would 'help women the most,'" Politico reports.
"Republicans who openly deny the legitimacy of the issue will be seen as out of touch with women's life experiences," the report warns.
Katie Packer Gage, a political strategist who focuses on improving GOP standing with female voters, told Politico that women think of "old, white, right, out of touch" men when they think of the Republican Party.
"Certainly if Hillary [Clinton] is on the top of the ticket for Democrats, it is going to be a significant challenge for us," she told Politico. "Maybe we'll see women on our side that will step up as well . . . We have to quit sitting back and taking it on the chin. I think we have to play offense on this."
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