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alieNATION

The Divide & Conquer Election of 2012

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Edited By Dianne G. Bystrom, Mary C. Banwart and Mitchell S. McKinney

alieNATION presents research conducted by a national election team and leading scholars in political communication that explores a range of important topics and variables affecting voter attitudes and behavior in the 2012 U.S. presidential election.
In exploring the messages, issues, and voters of the 2012 election, these studies employ multiple methods including experimental design, content analysis, rhetorical criticism, and survey research. Whereas other election research tends to investigate either the content or effects of campaign communication, the more comprehensive and systematic nature of this collection enables alieNATION to cohere thematically around considerations of voter alienation, political engagement, political efficacy, and ultimately, citizens’ voting decisions.
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Chapter Eight: Gendered Framing of the 2012 Election: The “War on Women” as Rhetorical Strategy

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← 133 | 134 → CHAPTER EIGHT

VALERIE M. HENNINGS AND DIANNE G. BYSTROM

It’s just so hard for me to grasp how they [Republicans] can be as anti-woman as they are. I think that the pushback and the guttural reaction from women against the Republicans’ agenda out of the gate, the war on women that the Republicans have been waging since they took over the House, I think is not only going to restore but help us exceed the president’s margin of victory in the next election. – Democratic Party chairwoman U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, at a May 26, 2011, breakfast roundtable with reporters. (Bedard, 2011)

If the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars and every mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we’d have problems with caterpillars. It’s a fiction. – Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, in an April 7, 2012, interview on Bloomberg Television’s Political Capital with Al Hunt. (Jensen, 2012)

Much of the rhetoric of the 2012 presidential election focused on whether the Democrats or Republicans were waging a so-called “war on women” voters. Prominent Democrats—including U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, chairwoman of the Democratic Party, and U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer of California—charged that Republicans were waging a war on women by introducing bills to restrict their reproductive health care; alleging that their bodies could prevent pregnancy from “legitimate rape”; and opposing bills to increase the minimum...

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