When Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) announced his candidacy for president on Monday, he may have forgotten an extremely important electoral group: women.
In Cruz’s formal announcement for president, he lamented the low voter turnout rates for the Evangelical community. “Today, roughly half of born again Christians aren’t voting. They’re staying home. Imagine instead millions of people of faith all across America coming out to the polls and voting our values,” he said.
But even if Cruz gets every single Evangelical Christian to the polls in 2016, that may not solve the party’s larger demographic problems. Particularly given that it’s all but certain the Republican nominee will be running against a prominent female candidate, Republican voters may have a tough time with women voters. In 2012, they lost women voters by 12 points.
Though much was made about this deficit by Republicans following the 2012 election, they seem to have felt the problem was solved after the 2014 midterm elections. In an post-election analysis released earlier this month, the Republican National Committee wrote, “We successfully fought back against the War on Women narrative in places like Colorado, and the results of our efforts are clear. In 2012, the GOP had a 12-point deficit with women voters, and in 2014 our deficit was down to only four points. We now have to keep building on this progress and talking to women about the issues that matter most to them. ”
But rather than “building on this progress,” Cruz outlined several policy proposals that might make Republican appeals to women an even bigger uphill battle. On nearly each major policy point Cruz supported a side that isn’t popular with women.
“Instead of the joblessness, instead of the millions forced into part-time work, instead of the millions who’ve lost their health insurance, lost their doctors, have faced skyrocketing health insurance premiums, imagine in 2017 a new president signing legislation repealing every word of Obamacare,” Cruz said.
One of the most controversial parts of the Affordable Care Act has been the piece that mandated employers cover contraception without a co-pay. Cruz mentioned this in his speech, referencing the famous Hobby Lobby case, in which the Supreme Court ruled that employers could opt out of covering some types of contraception (and then later clarified that they could object to any type of contraception). But unfortunately for him, the contraception mandate is extremely popular with women. According to Kaiser Family Foundation’s April 2014 tracking poll, the contraception mandate has the support of 65 percent of women.
A Flat Tax And Abolishing The IRS
“Instead of a tax code that crushes innovation, that imposes burdens on families struggling to make ends met, imagine a simple flat tax. Imagine abolishing the IRS.,” he said.
There’s little polling on a flat tax or abolishing the IRS specifically, since it mostly hasn’t been a serious policy proposal from either party. The last candidate to propose a flat tax was Herman Cain with his 9-9-9 proposal in 2012. That proposal was 10 points more popular with men than with women.
“Instead of the lawlessness and the president’s unconstitutional executive amnesty, imagine a president that finally, finally, finally secures the borders. And imagine a legal immigration system that welcomes and celebrates those who come to achieve the American dream,” Cruz said.
It’s a bit unclear what this might actually mean in terms of policy, since Cruz voted against a bipartisan immigration reform bill that aimed to do much of this in 2013. And immigration reform is extremely popular with women. An NBC News poll conducted that year found women supported a path to citizenship by a 36-point margin.
Abortion and Same-sex Marriage
“Instead of a federal government that works to undermine our values, imagine a federal government that works to defend the sanctity of human life and uphold the sacrament of marriage,” Cruz said.
Women are more likely to identify as pro-choice than men, with 50 percent of women identifying as such in the most recent Gallup polling. Pew Research Center also found that women are more likely to support same-sex marriage, at 55 percent, and have increased support by more than 10 points since President Barack Obama took office.
“Instead of a government that works to undermine our Second Amendment rights, that seeks to ban our ammunition imagine a federal government that protects the right to keep and bear arms of all law-abiding Americans,” he said.
It’s likely when Cruz talks about protecting the right to bear arms he means opposition to recent proposals to implement background checks and other minor reforms that have been proposed in the wake of school shootings like Sandy Hook. Women disproportionately support such reforms, with an NBC News poll showing 65 percent of women support stricter gun control measures.
Government Data Collection
“Instead of a government that seizes your e-mails and cell phones, imagine a federal government to protect the privacy rights of every American,” Cruz said, in what looks to be an attempt to go after the libertarian branch of the Republican party that his colleague Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was eyeing. Cruz may even find some support among liberals on this point. However, women seem to care much less about government-sponsored data collection than men do. A Pew study found “a substantial gender gap: by a 51% to 29% margin men are more concerned that government policies have gone too far in restricting civil liberties.” Women were roughly split, with 42 percent saying the government had gone too far in data collection and 40 percent saying they hadn’t gone far enough.
School Choice And Common Core
“Instead of a federal government that seek to dictate school curriculum through Common Core. Imagine repealing every word of common core. Imagine embracing school choice as the civil rights issue of the next generation. That every single child, regardless of race, ethnicity, wealth or zip code, every child in america has the right to a quality education. And that’s true from all of the above whether public schools or charter schools or christian schools or parochial schools or — every child,” he said.
Common Core is certainly an unpopular policy (though it is not, as Cruz claims, a federal policy that can be repealed but rather a voluntary state-run initiative), and it polls poorly among both men and women, with just 17 percent of Americans approving of the policy, but polling has also found that many Americans have dramatic misconceptions about it — including that it mandates teaching sex education, climate change, and the American Revolution.
Instead of a president who boycotts Prime Minister Netanyahu, imagine a president who stands up unapologetically with Israel. Instead of a president that seeks to go to the United States imagine a president that says I will honor the Constitution and under no circumstances will Iran be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon. Imagine a president that says we will stand up and defeat radical Islamic terrorism and we will call it by its name,” he said.
It’s tough to find polling specifically on the Iran or Israel questions broken down by gender, but recent polling did find about 68 percent of Americans overall approved of direct negotiations with Iran over a nuclear weapon. Women are also slightly less likely than men to rank foreign policy as an important issue when deciding on a candidate for Congress, and they are more likely to say issues like the economy are “very important.”