With a little less than a year-and-a-half until the election, Democrats are already laying the groundwork for a campaign that’s aimed directly at a female voters.
The Democratic National Committee, the arm of the national Democratic Party focused on elections, has started bulking up for the general election.
Officials at the DNC told Business Insider that the organisation has been huddling with some female candidates in order to figure out support plans, and has been hiring additional staff focused specifically on women’s issues.
The organisation is already reaching out to media outlets with large female audiences in preparation for the 2016 campaign. This week, the DNC also began pushing through party measures to officially recognise Women’s Equality Day.
Hoping that the “war on women message” will resonate again in this election cycle, Democrats are hammering Republican presidential candidates like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) over calls to defund the reproductive healthcare nonprofit Planned Parenthood.
“The GOP presidential candidates don’t have a clue when it comes to women’s equality,” Kaylie Hanson, the DNC’s director of women’s media, told Business Insider. “Their party is in serious trouble if they keep promoting an agenda that prevents women from becoming truly equal.”
Though Democrats enjoy an advantage among female voters, both parties are looking for ways to reach out to the potentially crucial voting bloc.
Republicans will likely look to expand on standing among married women and those without strong ties to any particular party. The Wall Street Journal noted that young white women and women with less education could be a key swing bloc for Republicans, as they are not solidly aligned with either party.
For Democrats, the goal is turning out its core voters. The party wants to increase turnout among unmarried women — a group that accounts for roughly one in four Americans eligible to vote, and overwhelmingly supported President Barack Obama in 2012.
The party is also getting a boost targeting female voters from several groups aligned with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The Washington Post reported earlier this year that Clinton’s primary super PAC, Priorities USA, and the advocacy group Emily’s List are both pumping millions into efforts targeted at reaching women in battleground states.
For her part, Clinton sees her gender as an advantage in connecting with female voters.
While she attempted to soften the influence that her gender would play in the White House during her 2008 bid, the current Democratic front-runner is making issues that appeal to female voters a central pillar of her campaign this time around.
Clinton has voiced support for a number of policies aimed at wooing single and working women, including paid sick leave, equal pay, and tax breaks for middle and lower income families to pay for childcare services.
Meanwhile, Republicans have been working behind the scenes to soften their message with female voters and develop moderate GOP policy prescriptions to problems.
In a post-election autopsy report, Republicans lamented that the party would continue to lose ground if Democrats were successfully able to convince female voters that GOP candidates were out of touch or unconcerned about issues that matter to women.
Earlier this summer, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire) and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) unveiled a bill that would allow over-the-counter birth control, which they believe will help improve Republicans’ standing with single female voters.
And their efforts may not be in vain: despite the robust Democratic outreach, there could still be an opening for Republicans if Clinton’s poll numbers tank.
As CNN noted, a Wall Street Journal poll found that between June and July, Clinton’s favourable ratings among white, college-educated women dropped from 51% to 43%, while her unfavorable ratings shot up from 38% to 47%.
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