February 7th, 2014
05:00 PM ET
6 months ago

CNN Poll: Majority say GOP out of touch with women

Washington (CNN) - A majority of Americans, and women in particular, do not believe the Republican Party understands the problems and concerns of women today.

That's the headline from a new national poll that comes as Republicans push back against Democratic claims the GOP is out of touch on female issues and is waging a war on women.

Full CNN/ORC International survey results

According to the CNN/ORC International poll, which was released Friday, 55% of Americans surveyed say the GOP doesn't understand women. That number rises to 59% among all women and 64% among women over 50.

"That last number is intriguing, since older women are more likely to vote Republican than younger women. Yet younger women don't have as much of a problem with the GOP on this measure," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.

"That suggests that the problem women have with the Republican Party may be related less to the policy positions the GOP takes and more related to the attitudes behind those policies and the tone the party takes when addressing them," he added.

Some controversial comments by Republicans over the past few years have fed Democratic claims the GOP is out of touch with women. The highest ranking female House Republican tells CNN her party has a messaging problem.

"When you look at our position on issues, a lot of times majority of Americans agree with our positions. But it's the way that we talk about it that doesn't resonate and we have to do a better job," said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state. "I think it's fair to say there have been some comments which are offensive and they're not representative of the entire Republican Party."

"There's more work to be done. Republicans are good at speaking from our head about facts and figures. We also need to speak from our heart and make sure people know that we care," added McMorris Rodgers, the House Republican Conference chair and a rising political star who last week gave the GOP response to the State of the Union.

Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina agrees the problem is more about tone than policy.

"We're concerned about education for their children. We're concerned about jobs, we're concerned about the success of women in this country. The problem is, for whatever reason, we haven't been able to articulate it as well as we should."

Republican women questioned in the poll say the GOP understands their problems and concerns, but the survey indicates independent women don't agree. Fifty-nine percent of independent women said they weren't pleased with the GOP's track record on such issues.

According to the survey, the Democratic Party does not face the same concerns: 63% of all Americans and 62% of American women say that the Democrats understand women.

Pay a problem

President Barack Obama received a loud applause in his State of the Union address when he spoke up in support of pay equity. McMorris Rodgers admits that by opposing Democratic plans to address the inequity for women without putting out their own plan, the GOP faces turning off women.

"Republicans need to recognize that, to be part of solution, in general bringing these work place laws into 21st century," McMorris Rodgers said.

Ellmers agreed, adding that "women across this country believe there's a discrepancy in equal pay for women so this is something we have to be fighting for."

The take at Tammy's Diner

At Tammy's Diner in a northern Virginia congressional district up for grabs in November's midterm elections, the GOP's women problem is on display.

"The Democratic Party is more aware of what is best for a woman, said Peggy Mackey, a Republican.

Michael Bertleson agreed.

"I think they're not as sensitive to women's issues as the Democrats are," he said.

"The more we get involved in government issues, the better things will be for women, urged Jean Bertleson, a Republican. "Get some more women in there."

And that's what Ellmers is trying to do. She is part of a party effort to recruit more female candidates.

"We're fighting so hard to get more women elected. we have to be more representative of the American public, Ellmers said.

But she and her party have a long way to go. Right now only 19 of the 232 House Republicans are women.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International from January 31-February 2, with 1,010 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

CNN Senior Producer Paul Courson contributed to this report.

soundoff (393 Responses)
  1. NSL

    The poll asked the following question, "Do you think the Republican party generally understands the problems and concerns of women?" which could be answered, "Understands," "Does not understand," or "No opinion." (They asked the same question about the Democratic Party.)

    I think they should have asked a follow up question which could have explained the situation better, and been far more illuminating.

    "Do you think the Republican party generally cares about the problems and concerns of women?"

    Personally, while I think some members of the Republican party are clueless when it comes to understanding the problems and concerns of women, I think what is far more serious is that most members of the Republican party couldn't care less about the problems and concerns of women. The problems and concerns of women are just not on the GOP's horizon.

    February 7, 2014 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  2. nellibly

    The government has no right to legislate my reproductive system. Period.

    February 7, 2014 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  3. ja

    The GOP is out of touch with Americans period

    February 7, 2014 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  4. Flagship, NC

    McMorris Rodgers who gave the republican response to the State of the Union was totally fake.
    I was insulted in the way she talked to the people, as if we were children in first grade.
    She reminded me of the movie "The Steppford wives".

    February 7, 2014 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  5. Layla Godey

    I'm still trying to figure out what the "war on women" is-I don't see any political parties trying to hurt women.

    February 7, 2014 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  6. RP

    Why is this a surpise. Equal Pay and Abortion rights are always at the fore front of this discussion. I'm the father of three daughters and none of them feel that anyone should be telling them what to do with their bidies.( and I agree with them ) The Republican Party talking heads have a way of talking to you like a strict father talking to their children.
    (This is the way it is and nothing else) Without any flexability they will never gain the trust of the minority.

    That's why Christie has / had a chance , he at least seems willing to be flexble. ( No joke intended )

    February 7, 2014 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  7. Peter

    I wonder what Republican run Democrat website will state that isn't true.

    February 7, 2014 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  8. Susan StoHelit

    Even when it's a Republican woman, concerned with outreach to women, she still can't even bring herself to face facts:

    "Ellmers agreed, adding that "women across this country believe there's a discrepancy in equal pay for women so this is something we have to be fighting for."

    "Women believe" – in other words, she can't say there is a discrepancy in pay, even given the massive number of studies that consistently show this gap, so she has to paint it, even here, as "women believe" – not something true.

    When your party platform says that if I'm pregnant with a malformed baby without a brain that will never survive, and the pregnancy is killing me, I should just die, that tells me my worth as a woman to people running in that party. And their actions consistently back that up, all the laws done to try to say that women should have the government controlling our bodies.

    February 7, 2014 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  9. john

    I have never seen such a disgustful display of intrusions and lack of respect for women and their rights in my lifetime. I swear you have to travel back 100 years of history to find the same degree of calousness and misogyny practiced then as is practiced now!

    February 7, 2014 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  10. Icount2

    The GOP has always been out of touch with women. This is certainly nothing new.

    February 7, 2014 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  11. m123

    The GOP continues to be its worst enemy
    Women?
    YOu mean is the GOP out of touch with EVERYONE?
    I am a libertarian and I have a hard time supporting either party

    February 7, 2014 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  12. Paul

    And fewer than 40% of American think that the President is doing a good job. Guess he may be out of touch as well.

    February 7, 2014 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  13. Thomas

    With Anita Bryant , Ann Coulter and Sarah Palin as there female mantra's .

    I'd say they are out of touch with the reality of life !

    February 7, 2014 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  14. LMAO

    Why is it we never actually see or participate in the polls yet we see stories about them?

    February 7, 2014 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  15. nintex

    With Uncle Huckabee's recent remark I would think even republican women would be cringing by now.

    February 7, 2014 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  16. Bill Meyers

    I'm not surprised at this obviously rigged poll. CNN went to everybody who voted for Obama or any Liberal who would participate in the poll. This was done to make Democrats look good and Republicans look bad. Shame on you for making it sound like a REAL poll.

    February 7, 2014 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  17. Uncle Sam

    First they say 'keep you hands off women' now they say that they are out of touch. Which is it. Hey Mayor Filner you were just proactive.

    February 7, 2014 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  18. Coffee Party

    They are definitely in-touch with little boys and other grown men in bathroom stalls.

    February 7, 2014 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  19. so much for honesty

    Only folks voting for the GOP or rich or dumb....

    February 7, 2014 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  20. Sandy

    It's not so much that they're out of touch, it's that they hate us.

    February 7, 2014 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  21. Joe in Kalispell

    Not really out of touch, but very, very bad a delivering their message.

    February 7, 2014 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  22. Melissa

    The GOP are out of touch with REALITY, not just women.

    February 7, 2014 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  23. Claudia L

    64% among women over 50 think the GOP is out of touch. The higher number means that this group is shocked by the disrespect the GOP has given them & can see that their rights are being rolled back by the GOP. To even question (as the GOP does) whether women have the right to take birth control pills seems alien to women over 50.

    February 7, 2014 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  24. berniecat@outlook.com

    the gop fascist women suggesting that most Americans support them just shows how out of touch and insane the gop are ! enough of fascism and religious cults in American politics ! the gop has never been good for America , but only their rich owners , corporatist plutocracy lovers and the lobbyist they pledge to and give allegiances !

    February 7, 2014 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  25. Abbey

    Well we know the Democrats will say about anything to get a vote.

    February 7, 2014 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
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