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What Do Women Want? (If the GOP nominee wants to win the presidency, he must find out)
National Review ^ | 04/06/2012 | Anne Sorock & Frank Miniter

Posted on 04/06/2012 7:37:58 PM PDT by SeekAndFind

“Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps.” — William Shakespeare, Much Ado about Nothing, III.i

_________________________________

President Barack Obama took 57 percent of the women’s vote in the 2008 presidential election (men split their vote 50–50 between Obama and John McCain). But can Obama win the women’s vote again? For clues to how women are likely to vote in the 2012 presidential election — and why some candidates are resonating more than others — we turned to a new technique now being used by some marketing companies.

First, we should put the polls in context. Obama’s campaign team knows he needs a clear majority among women again in 2012 to win, but Gallup reported that as of March 19–25 Obama’s approval rating among women was just 49 percent. He’ll need a much higher percentage than that to win; after all, according to Gallup’s statistics, in the 2004 presidential election 52 percent of women voted for John Kerry, and in the 2000 election 53 percent of women voted for Al Gore, but both lost to their Republican rival, George W. Bush.

So, if we use the last three presidential contests as indicators, Obama would seem to need over 53 percent of the women’s vote to win. True, he might win with less, depending on voter turnout. According to Census Bureau figures, in the 2010 midterm elections 42.7 percent of eligible women voters cast ballots, whereas just 40.9 percent of eligible men voted. Also, historically, a higher percentage of unmarried women vote for Democrats than of married women, and the number of unmarried women has now surpassed the number of married women — as of August 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 51.1 percent of women 18 years of age and older were not married. Democrats like this shift in demographics.

According to the Voter Participation Center (VPC), a Democratic-leaning nonprofit, 61 percent of unmarried women who voted in 2010 cast ballots for Democrats. And a lot of unmarried women haven’t been voting, says the VPC. For example, although unmarried women made up 25.2 percent of the overall population eligible to vote in the 2010 midterm elections, they made up only 23.6 percent of actual voters that year.

So winning the women’s vote is essential; however, understanding how to win it is difficult for campaign staffers, who often seem to shrug their shoulders just as Sigmund Freud, the man who invented psychoanalysis, did when he opined, “The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is ‘What does a woman want?’”

A method of analysis that Freud would have appreciated, called “laddering,” gave us some surprising answers as to why women are moving toward one GOP candidate or another. Laddering uses in-depth interviews to prompt key insights into an individual’s reason for liking a product or, in this case, a candidate. This method — picture a patient on a psychoanalyst’s couch — captures a mental map of the brain’s connections to a product (or candidate), and for this reason is becoming the preferred method of research for savvy marketers. By doing in-depth interviews with women who support particular Republican candidates for president, we found more substantive answers than polls or focus groups are providing. (In fact, men take note: The insights might just translate to what women want in a broader sense.)

NEWT GINGRICH Amy, who is 31 years old and single, supports Newt Gingrich for president. She says, “Newt’s the only one who’s a fighter, and who gets what the battle’s about.” She added, “I’m tired of buying into the candidates I’m told to support. I am trusting myself on this one, not the GOP’s pick.”

The basis for her support included her opinion that “Newt has a strong core.” When asked to follow up on this point, she said, “He’ll withstand opposition.” And then she said, “His strong core makes me feel secure.” She also explained that “he doesn’t care what others think.” She says she’s looking for a person strong enough to fix what she sees as a fiscal crisis and a loss of confidence in America.

Amy said that another reason she supports Gingrich is that “he’s smart.” This led her to say, “He’ll expose the other side,” and “I feel validated” when he articulates the positions she feels strongly about.

Her last reason was that Gingrich has a “twinkle in his eyes.” Okay, this is something few men would be likely to say. But her point is clear: She likes Gingrich’s confident, almost swashbuckling bravado. She is looking for a brave candidate who won’t wilt in a debate or compromise his (and her) core beliefs in a game of give-and-take politics.

Taken together, these elements of Amy’s mental map reveal her propensity for jumping into the fray and a desire for a candidate who will take her along with him. Her desire to support a candidate who’s a fighter — and who has more than an ounce of charm — reveals not only why Gingrich is her pick, but also how he has managed to woo some females to his side. As Amy looks at the country’s future with a bit of fear, her values lead her to a desire for a candidate who is tough, innovative, and prepared to fight.

RON PAUL Laura, who is 40 years old and married, took her time picking a GOP candidate. She finally settled on Ron Paul. She said, “I’ve seen promises made, and not kept. I think there are truths in the world that are not flexible, honesty being one of them.” She finds Paul, above all things, to be consistently honest.

In fact, she says she likes the fact that Paul is “consistent across all his views.” When asked why she feels this way, she said, “He’s less susceptible to special interests.” This, she said, makes her feel that she can “rely on him.” She thinks that his positions are not just empty rhetoric; as a result, she can “connect with him.”

Her last foundational point was that Paul “keeps his promises.” She says he follows through and is straightforward about what he really thinks, and that he “injects meaning into my whole life.” As a result of his honesty, she says, “I feel devoted to him.”

Laura sought out a candidate whose character and consistency allowed her to connect with him in a way that gave her security and reassured her she could trust him. She represents the segment of Republican women who are unsure whether they can rely on Republicans to govern as they campaign.

MITT ROMNEY Carolyn, who is 30 and single, pointed out something few men would ever notice: “When he holds those babies, the first thing he does is turn to his wife, and there’s something about that.”

Carolyn started off by saying she liked Romney’s “business background.” She explained, “When you know that your candidate has that pride in America and the American system, it gives me faith, and I feel protected.”

She next said she likes Romney’s integrity. “I’m overtly emotionally involved,” she said, “and he makes me feel like I have someone who’s on my side.” She added that his integrity “brings people together.”

Looks, for Carolyn, are not irrelevant. She said, “He has all his hair.” But she also loves the fact that he’s still married to a woman he met in high school. She said, “He really seems to support his wife.” When asked to explain this point, she said, “He’s a family man . . . I feel like he’s on my side.” Carolyn represents the segment of women who seek the security that a seasoned businessman with a solid family behind him provides. Romney ultimately makes her feel protected, optimistic, and secure — especially about our country’s fiscal position.

As Romney is the frontrunner, we asked a woman who now supports him, but only after she finally “compromised” by settling on him, to explain why. Yasmin, who is 40 years old and married, is like a lot of conservatives in that she has had a difficult time deciding which candidate to back. She finally chose Romney because “for all his faults there’s a silver lining.” When asked to explain, she said, “I didn’t get the candidates I wanted, but I’ll make the best of it. Romney will get it done. He’s never going to be the most fun guy at the party, but he’ll get me home.”

Yasmin then said, “The world is so on fire right now, I’m looking for someone solid, consistent; someone I can look to for stability.” She added, “At this stage in my life I need a rock, and Romney makes me feel comforted.”

Finally, Yasmin added, “I don’t think Romney ever punched his hand through a wall when he got angry.” Yasmin made the choice that many other women are facing: Predictable and boring are not all bad when life is, as Yasmin put it, “going wrong all around me.”

RICK SANTORUM Katie, who is 36 and single, said, “Does it bother me that Santorum’s not going to win? Probably not.” When asked to explain, she said, “The others just don’t do anything to excite me.” As we dug into her reasoning, Katie said, “He’s a fighter. He’s persistent. He gives me motivation.”

Katie also likes the fact that Santorum is a “family man.” She said this “grounds him,” and she added, “I’m facing the same challenge, and he inspires me to do more.”

However, what she really liked was Santorum’s record “of reform.” She thinks he’ll reduce the “abuse of entitlements” and “make the system fairer.” She thinks he has an “unruffled” personality that will be “better with the public.”

The important takeaway from Katie’s selection of Santorum is that his tenacity and persistence provide her with inspiration. Through supporting him, she and others like her are asking their candidate to light a spark within them to “do more,” as Katie put it.

PUTTING ALL THIS TOGETHER According to Gallup, in a poll taken March 12–18, Republican women nationally are torn among the four candidates — Romney has the support of 37 percent, Santorum of 30 percent, Gingrich of 11 percent, and Paul of 6 percent. The women interviewed for this article certainly were split. The candidate who wins the GOP nomination will have to find a way to bring these groups together. To do this, he will need to make them all feel that their values have been met in some way, from security and persistence to inspiration and someone on their side.

The women interviewed have strong views about the GOP candidates they’re not supporting. For example, Carolyn said, “Santorum just reminds me of some kid who would tell on me in high school. Romney’s the hard worker, who would somehow pull off valedictorian without you ever knowing.”

In sum, they all came to their decisions with perspectives the all-male field now vying for the presidency needs to understand. After all, women might be the least decided voters at present and the most important demographic in the 2012 presidential election. And none of the GOP candidates seems to have figured out how to present himself and his policies in a way that a majority of women can relate to. For example, in the week of March 17 the Economist/YouGov poll found that Obama led Romney among women by 17 points (55 percent to 38 percent). And the poll showed the other GOP candidates as being even worse off. Among women, Santorum had a 30 percent favorable rating, and Gingrich only a 22 percent favorable rating.

The Republican candidates seem to be responding by trying to keep women focused on the economy. For this to work for Romney, the party’s frontrunner, he will have to find a way for women to “feel secure” that he can manage the economy, reducing the unemployment rate, among other things. If he is to accomplish this, his wife will have to help. She is a likable speaker and a seasoned campaigner.

Our interviews certainly made it clear that Romney has not yet presented himself in a way that makes most women relate to him. But as he seeks to reach women, he would do well not to demand devotion but to woo the less-than-enthusiastic Yasmins out there. Romney — and the rest — might be well served by poring over the other women’s values.

Democrats, meanwhile, know Obama must win the women’s vote by a sizable margin to secure a second term. He beat McCain in the national women’s vote by 14 points. But in 2010, when Republicans seized control of the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrats on average won only 49 percent of the women’s vote. This was the first time in decades the Democrats didn’t carry the women’s vote in a national election. If this happens again, they won’t have a chance.

So whoever goes up against Obama will have to find a way to humanize himself and his policies in a way women can connect with. The optimistic spin is: Women haven’t made up their minds yet.

— Anne Sorock is the founder of The Frontier Lab, a marketing nonprofit. Frank Miniter is the author of The Ultimate Man’s Survival Guide and other books.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: gop; potus; women

1 posted on 04/06/2012 7:38:07 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

A lot of them want the Government to be their surrogate husband.


2 posted on 04/06/2012 7:40:24 PM PDT by rbg81
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To: SeekAndFind

Its pretty simple.
They want security foremost.


3 posted on 04/06/2012 7:41:13 PM PDT by mylife (The Roar Of The Masses Could Be Farts)
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To: SeekAndFind
The question of the ages. I have lived on this planet for 6 decades and have read going back more then 5,000 years and I am unable to even guess what women want.

I also quit caring about 2002.

4 posted on 04/06/2012 7:42:12 PM PDT by elkfersupper ( Member of the Original Defiant Class)
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To: SeekAndFind

Who cares what “women want?”

Most of ‘em are OWN subscribers.

... ducking...


5 posted on 04/06/2012 7:43:36 PM PDT by sauropod (You can elect your very own tyranny - Mark Levin)
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To: SeekAndFind
Ah, the Eternal Question. If there was ever an answer to that, they never would have invented divorce court.

"As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their hearts desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."

--H.L. Mencken, The Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1920


6 posted on 04/06/2012 7:44:55 PM PDT by Viking2002 ( "Give me a diablo sandwich, a Dr. Pepper, and make it quick, I'm in a gaddamn hurry.")
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To: SeekAndFind

Single women want “Sugar Daddy Govt”

Married women want “A real man”, that is why Reagan and Bush 2 did well with women.


7 posted on 04/06/2012 7:45:16 PM PDT by Perdogg
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To: SeekAndFind

Well I’m a woman, and I just want Hussein to spend the rest of his life in a federal prison. Is that too much to ask? (best angry wife voice and “the look”)


8 posted on 04/06/2012 7:47:55 PM PDT by TheConservativeParty ("Liberalism lives in a gated community surrounded by a mote." R.H.Limbaugh 4-3-2012)
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To: TheConservativeParty
Not "the look'!!! ☺
9 posted on 04/06/2012 7:51:56 PM PDT by mylife (The Roar Of The Masses Could Be Farts)
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To: mylife

“Its pretty simple.
They want security foremost.”

you forgot the part about wanting other people or the Government to provid it for them..

As for me the women I respect are responsible enough to take care of their own and ofter their families...


10 posted on 04/06/2012 7:55:00 PM PDT by Breto (The Establishment party is killing our country)
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To: mylife

If they wanted security they would never vote socialist.


11 posted on 04/06/2012 7:57:30 PM PDT by Durus (You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality. Ayn Rand)
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To: Breto

How they get security is a mixed bag.


12 posted on 04/06/2012 7:57:40 PM PDT by mylife (The Roar Of The Masses Could Be Farts)
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To: SeekAndFind

No offense, but bullcr@p.

Do what is right.

No more. No less. Let women voters do what women voters do:

Recognize and support: confidence.


13 posted on 04/06/2012 7:59:13 PM PDT by Cringing Negativism Network ((Racism Fatigue) America is the least racist nation on Earth)
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To: Durus

People don’t always think a plan through to its end.


14 posted on 04/06/2012 7:59:20 PM PDT by mylife (The Roar Of The Masses Could Be Farts)
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To: SeekAndFind
I can tell you what they DON't want.

No political nastiness. i.e., Say nice things about your opponent' and honor his point of view. Play nice. Everybody share.
No Controversy.
No Arguing. Just do what we want.
No Fighting
No short guys
No fat guys.
No Bald Guys
No Loud Guys.
No bearded guys
No mustaches
No guys who have to be told how to treat them and cannot anticipate their desires
Don't take us for granted
No hitting girls

15 posted on 04/06/2012 8:00:58 PM PDT by Kenny Bunk (So, Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Roberts can't figure out if Obama is a Natural Born Citizen?)
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To: SeekAndFind
What Do Women Want?

Latest pair of designer Italian heels, their gun cleaned for them and a good man who knows how to cook. All three benefit me as well so what is so hard with dealing with broads?

16 posted on 04/06/2012 8:19:52 PM PDT by Lazlo in PA (Now living in a newly minted Red State.)
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To: mylife

Yep, the dreaded “look”.

: )


17 posted on 04/06/2012 8:23:29 PM PDT by TheConservativeParty ("Liberalism lives in a gated community surrounded by a mote." R.H.Limbaugh 4-3-2012)
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To: Lazlo in PA

Yes the gun cleaning is right up there on my list.
How did you know?

: )


18 posted on 04/06/2012 8:25:59 PM PDT by TheConservativeParty ("Liberalism lives in a gated community surrounded by a mote." R.H.Limbaugh 4-3-2012)
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To: TheConservativeParty

I married very high maintenance, but even I hate the smell of Hoppes Oil.


19 posted on 04/06/2012 8:33:53 PM PDT by Lazlo in PA (Now living in a newly minted Red State.)
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To: SeekAndFind

I think this is a bunch of hooey. Dem women will vote for dumbbunny Obama and Republican women won’t vote for Obama. I doubt Independent women will vote for Obama either.

The fictional war on women needed to have a conclusion, so this narrative has come up that women are nuts for Obama.


20 posted on 04/06/2012 8:35:50 PM PDT by dforest
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To: SeekAndFind

21 posted on 04/06/2012 8:38:10 PM PDT by Lancey Howard
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To: SeekAndFind

What Do Women Want?

Man has been trying to figure that out since the beginning of time.

A better question would be;

....................................What Do Women NOT Want?

Most married men have a very long list of answers to THAT question. I have been married for over 40 years to a beautiful woman. I quit keeping a list because it is much easier and less stressful to simply say, “yes dear”. DO NOT DOUBT ME. LOL

A truism: Women will change their mind when they damn well want to, again, again and again.


22 posted on 04/06/2012 8:41:50 PM PDT by Gator113 (** President Newt Gingrich-"Our beloved republic deserves nothing less." ~Just livin' life, my way~)
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To: SeekAndFind

What about the woman that lost their jobs because of the bummer.


23 posted on 04/06/2012 8:43:42 PM PDT by Big Horn (Rebuild the GOP to a conservative party)
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To: Viking2002

You know... we men do not have that problem... we know exactly what it is that we want. :-) I won’t say most women... but there is a certain type of woman that does not know what she wants... but she damn well knows that she doesn’t have it!

LLS


24 posted on 04/06/2012 8:45:11 PM PDT by LibLieSlayer (WOLVERINES!)
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To: Gator113

Smart woman like my wife do not like Obama.


25 posted on 04/06/2012 8:47:28 PM PDT by Big Horn (Rebuild the GOP to a conservative party)
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To: Big Horn

He disgusts mine too.


26 posted on 04/06/2012 8:59:50 PM PDT by Gator113 (** President Newt Gingrich-"Our beloved republic deserves nothing less." ~Just livin' life, my way~)
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To: rbg81
A lot of them want the Government to be their surrogate husband.

That's exactly right and it doesn't matter how successful a woman might be in her own right...she has a basic need for a "fall guy" if she fails...be it Government...family members or whomever....she needs a cushion to fall on.

Men on the other hand don't....they know the buck stops with them...and one of the many admirable traits about men to be respected. IMO.

IMO there's many woman who have no business voting....I see this at work...it's all about how the man "Looks"...is he the best looking etc. Silly school girl thinking...it's embarrassing to here them talk.

27 posted on 04/06/2012 9:02:25 PM PDT by caww
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To: Kenny Bunk

Kenny...the only one who could fulfill that list is another woman! LOL....


28 posted on 04/06/2012 9:06:33 PM PDT by caww
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To: Lazlo in PA

I have plenty of Hoppes here too.
LOL
Husband is retired military. Doesn’t mind cleaning my guns for me.

Have a Blessed Easter


29 posted on 04/06/2012 9:08:31 PM PDT by TheConservativeParty ("Liberalism lives in a gated community surrounded by a mote." R.H.Limbaugh 4-3-2012)
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To: elkfersupper
I am unable to even guess what women want...I also quit caring about 2002.

Maybe the question should be what do they have to offer?

30 posted on 04/06/2012 9:10:46 PM PDT by caww
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To: TheConservativeParty

Same to you.


31 posted on 04/06/2012 9:24:30 PM PDT by Lazlo in PA (Now living in a newly minted Red State.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Conservative women, like my wife, my mother, my mother-in-law, my aunt, my sister-in-laws, my nieces, and all my close friends all detest lying, left-wing Progressives like Mitt Romney.

They detest men, like Romney, who have no core principles.

They detest men, like Romney, who always put a finger in the wind to determine which way the wind blows before making a decision.

They detest men, like Romney, that say one thing and then do the other.


32 posted on 04/06/2012 10:10:52 PM PDT by SoConPubbie
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To: SeekAndFind

I don’t want Mitt Romney

I don’t want Ron Paul

I don’t want Obortion Obama

I would vote for Newt Gingrich

I would vote for Rick Santroum.


33 posted on 04/06/2012 10:23:19 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: SeekAndFind

Women want a meal ticket and men want a trophy.

Film at 11. [tape delayed until 12:05]


34 posted on 04/06/2012 11:48:39 PM PDT by bigoil (Study Thy Nixon)
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To: SeekAndFind

Will they be asking what men want any time soon?


35 posted on 04/07/2012 12:01:32 AM PDT by DNA.2012
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To: mylife
They want security foremost.

At any price to civilization.

36 posted on 04/07/2012 12:04:35 AM PDT by DNA.2012
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To: SeekAndFind
The public school and university types want Alan Alda-clones — until they get one — or they decide to fore go guys and go with their own sex. Once they get what they've been conditioned to want, they aren't happy. And so they take their venom out on all forms of society. The Lord help you if you get crosswise with one of these frustrated, angry, vengeful women.

What do women want? Ask them and they really can't tell you. They can tell you what they don't like, but they cannot say what it is they want.

37 posted on 04/07/2012 1:02:51 AM PDT by MasterGunner01 (11)
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To: rbg81

“A lot of them want the Government to be their surrogate husband.”

I agree, but unless they want to live in public housing they have to work, and the working women I meet are miserable.

I honestly believe women want to rewind 50 years, so they can raise families instead of running in the same rat-race as their men-folk. I don’t know how Obama can attract working women unless he lets them keep more of their pay; at this point they’re miserable while working for food and gasoline. They used to work for a vacation home or private school tuition; now they’re just working for the basics...


38 posted on 04/07/2012 3:16:11 AM PDT by kearnyirish2
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To: caww

IMO there’s many woman who have no business voting....I see this at work...it’s all about how the man “Looks”...is he the best looking etc. Silly school girl thinking...it’s embarrassing to here them talk.


Yeah, my wife does that too. You never hear a man saying he’ll vote for a candidate based on their looks. Again, getting back to the “surrogate husband” theory, women see whoever has power over them as an extension of their husband (or, as you say, the fall guy/cushion).


39 posted on 04/07/2012 4:45:40 AM PDT by rbg81
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To: rbg81
You never hear a man saying he’ll vote for a candidate based on their looks.

Tell that to Colin Powell.

40 posted on 04/07/2012 8:52:08 AM PDT by pepsi_junkie (Who is John Galt?)
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