April 8th, 2012
09:15 AM ET
9 years ago

Demographics of 2012: independents, Latinos, 'Medicare grandmas'

(CNN) - With attention shifting to the presidential general election after a series of primary wins from Republican Mitt Romney, several voting blocs are emerging as key to victory in November.

In an interview that aired Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," Democratic strategist Mark Penn and Republican pollster Linda DiVall said groups that carried electoral influence in past elections - independents, women and Latinos - would remain essential this time around. Reacting to a recent USA Today/ Gallup poll showing Romney trailing Obama among independents in certain swing states, Penn said the GOP primary has left Romney wounded.

"I think Romney through the primaries has been beaten up by the others, seen as removed from the middle-class, average voter," Penn told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. "He has trouble with women now, with Latinos. Boy, I think he's entering the general election now kind of a totally beaten-up candidate and this poll is a reflection of that."

DiVall, stressing the campaign was still in its early stages, said it was "not atypical in a very competitive Republican primary, that our nominee tends to go down."

Women voters, among whom Romney also trailed in the USA Today Gallup poll, are seeing a candidate who represents an overly conservative party, Penn argued.

"Romney has failed to distinguish himself from the pack," he said. "I think when you had the dust-up about contraception, I think women said 'Whoa, wait a minute here. This party, this Republican party and whoever is the nominee, is going to be driven by an agenda that's socially way too conservative for me in these times.' And I think that's shifted a lot of voters."

DiVall agreed the GOP was "inept" in its handling of the debate over whether private employers should be required to provide health insurance coverage for contraception, but added a shift in focus could help Republicans attract women voters.

"If you look at what happened in 2010, the Republicans were very competitive and in fact, won the vote with women voters," DiVall said, referring to the midterm elections. "So, I think there's an important lesson here. When we get the focus back on the economy and the focus on President Obama's record, things change very dramatically with the women's vote."

Blocs of women voters in past elections - "soccer moms" and "security moms" - will be replaced this cycle with more economy-minded voters.

DiVall said "Medicare grandmas," who are focused on jobs and economic prosperity for their children and grandchildren, and "Wall Street blues women," working women who worry about their family's economic well being, will impact the vote.

Latino voters, who are on target to cast ballots in record numbers in November, favored Obama to Romney 68% to 23% in a Pew Hispanic Center poll taken in November 2011. Penn chalked the deficit up to the former Massachusetts governor's conservative immigration platform.

"What happened here is that Romney, who has found himself with moderate positions on a lot of issues, took rather harsh and conservative positions on immigration," Penn said. "And so I think quite the opposite from where President George Bush was, where his immigration position seemed more moderate, Romney's now put him in a more isolating component of that."

DiVall said the GOP could make inroads by appealing to other issues Latino voters find important, like education.

"They are very entrepreneurial oriented," she said. "They are very family oriented. They place a high emphasis on education. There's no reason why the Republican Party and its candidates can't do a better job of appealing to them."

Also see:

Obama, Romney put politics aside to mark holiday weekend

As Masters tee up, so does Obama

Franken finds funny voice in campaign e-mails

Pro-Gingrich super PAC vows to stay in race

Brown pulls in $3.4 million for Senate bid, Warren says she raised more

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

Filed under: 2012 • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Peace

    "When we get the focus back on the economy and the focus on President Obama's record, things change very dramatically with the women's vote."
    We women have also brains and we use them to think. Nothing is going to change our mind even if one will insist on economy first. We understand well that no matter how well the economy can be, we can never manage our lives if there is no any control (contraception). We understand that we need a manageable sizable family of which we can be able to take care of. Contrary to that, good economy regardless of the size of the family will be meaningless to us.

    April 8, 2012 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  2. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    This past week, RNC Prince Reebuses' Wisconsin buddy, Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill to eliminate the equal pay for women act. Every republican state legislature is following ALEC's recommendation to eliminate women's rights. If women turn around and support the republican party, I think it would be a shock. Even the personhood front runner, Mittens, has promised to defund Planned Parenthood, which would eliminate cancer screening for over 3 million women. Women are not caterpillars.

    April 8, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  3. livingston

    The fact that the republicans would use the dismissive analogy of the "war on caterpillars" shows the total lack of respect they have for women. They have made it clear to all thinking women that they equate them with a possession that needs to be 'managed' . With the things that they have done and said in recent weeks it makes one wonder what they will do to the rights of women if they should by some chance get elected. Maybe take us back to the days when women couldn't own property? How about making them ask permission before they can spend money? Or why not just go right for the throat and take away their right to vote? A vote for any republican is a vote for the 1800's.

    April 8, 2012 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  4. vic , nashville ,tn

    Many Americans struggling to make $40000 per year but GOP nominee makes nearly $50,000 per day with out working
    Seniors build this country now GOP wants to cut their Medicare
    Republicans didn’t care for border fence long time because cheap labor, now political reason they wants Latinos to leave the their states
    GOP asking women to live with aspirin, but for men high tech Viagra
    When states unemployment are high state republicans passing the bills Gun in the bar , Gun in the park
    Out of touch party

    April 8, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |