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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 Eleven: Articulating Interests and Advocating Issues: An Analysis of Congresswomen’s Political Speech after the 2012 Election

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← 200 | 201 → CHAPTER ELEVEN

DIANNE G. BYSTROM AND VALERIE M. HENNINGS

Women voters, issues, and candidates garnered much attention in the 2012 election. Presidential candidates targeted appeals to women voters, with President Barack Obama’s campaign charging that the Republicans were waging a “war on women” with their attacks on Planned Parenthood and mandatory insurance coverage of contraceptives, and former Governor Mitt Romney arguing that Obama, and not the Republican Party, had done the most damage to women by failing to turn around the economy quickly enough.

In addition to the presidential candidates, the media paid significant attention to “women’s issues,” including reproductive choice and pay equity, in the 2012 election (Ness, 2012). Public opinion polls showed that female and male voters cared about different issues. For example, an October 2012 survey of voters in 12 key swing states found that 39% of women respondents ranked abortion as their top issue whereas men chose jobs (38%) and the economy (37%) (Dugan, 2012). On Election Day, women were 10 percentage points more likely than men to vote for Obama (Center for American Women and Politics, 2012).

Women candidates also made their mark in the 2012 election. A record 184 women ran in the general election for seats in the U.S. Congress with a record 88 women winning their races. A record 101 women—20 in the Senate and 81 in the House, including three delegates representing a U.S. territory or Washington, D.C.—served in...

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