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Supporting The Base: Why The GOP is Fighting Public Opinion

February 12, 2012

A public debate over women’s health seemed to finally erupt this week. Oddly enough the controversy surrounds a topic that hasn’t been truly controversial in some time—birth control. When Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that most employers would be required to birth control in their health plans the administration also announced thoughtful opt-outs as well.

While expanded religious exemptions would have left too many loopholes in care the President did announce new “accommodations” for religious liberties. Under the new policy, “all women will still have access to free preventive care, including contraception,” but if a nonprofit religiously affiliated organization (like a Catholic College or hospital) objects to offering birth control the insurance company would be required to foot the bill.

Starting today even that compromise is in question—and the public debate is shifting. Senor Mitch McConnell announced that the Senate GOP will attempt to push an amendment that if passed, will allow all private employers to opt out of providing any coverage of contraception or preventative care.

Why are Republicans pushing this issue when Americans, 55 to 40, favor the contraception mandate? At the center of the debate is not religion or moral indignation, but a needed voting block. The latest Public Religious Research Institute data can illuminate.

The key aspect is the White Evangelical vote; unlike every other voting block they favor lack of access 56 to 38. This group is seemingly the heart of the GOP so it seems odd that in an election year against a President with struggling support candidates and Senate Republicans would need to placate the base, but the answer is simple. The ‘heart’ of the GOP is thinning. Every state, with the exception of South Carolina, saw fewer voters than they did four year ago during the Republican Primaries.

Mitt Romney while soundly ahead of his contender with overall GOP voters, he still struggles to gain support from Evangelical Christians. There is a deep-seated discomfort amount Evangelicals concerning the Mormon church in general and Mitt Romney in particular. They believe he’ll use his position as the Republican nominee and then President to promote the Mormon Church—or make decision based on church doctrine.

This election may come down not to who can win over the most independent voters, but who can get most of their base out to the polls. Preventing access to birth control is just one part of the GOP’s plan to get Evangelicals excited about the party. If this discussion continues at the national level, it unfortunately might work.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 20, 2012 10:14 PM

    You actually make it seem really easy with your presentation but I to find this matter to be actually one thing which I think I’d never understand. It kind of feels too complex and extremely large for me. I am looking forward on your subsequent post, I will attempt to get the hang of it!

    • Brittani Haywood permalink*
      March 4, 2012 12:01 AM

      Thanks for the comment! I’ll try to write on the data concerning this issue in the next few days.

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