With the midterm election a little more than a month away, GOP candidates for the House of Representatives and the Senate in New Hampshire have said that Democrats are using women’s issues as a way to distract voters from “real” issues.
In a radio interview on Tuesday, Marilinda Garcia (R-Rockingham), who is running to represent New Hampshire’s second congressional district, said that the Democrats’ focus on women’s issues was “insulting, because they’re preying upon what they see as a vulnerable group, one that can be swayed with scare tactics.” She said that “maybe 2 percent” of voters she’s talked to are concerned about women’s rights.
Throughout her time in the state house, Garcia has made anti-women comments and has a record of voting against bills supporting women’s issues. In 2007, during a speech on parental notification for abortion, Garcia said that “a pregnant teen — I mean, most women are emotional roller coasters — but a pregnant teen is an emotional roller coaster going at warp-speed.”
Garcia also has voted against bills that would prohibit employment discrimination against victims of domestic violence, prohibit punishing employees who file complaints relating to paycheck equity and create buffer zones around abortion clinics. In a March interview, she said that she opposes the Violence Against Women Act because New Hampshire state law protects women. Domestic violence only became a distinct crime in new Hampshire earlier this year.
The race currently leans Democrat. Rep. Ann McLane Custer is leading by around 11 percent, according to the latest polling.
New Hampshire Republicans are taking flack this week after GOP Senate nominee Scott Brown dismissed women’s rights as issues people don’t care about. He said that while “women’s issues are very important,” his focus is on things “people care about,” such as “immigration, border security, veterans’ issues, where we stand when it comes to Obamacare.” In September, Brown distanced himself from the New Hampshire Republican Party when they endorsed personhood, an extreme measure that would outlaw all abortion and possibly some forms of contraception.
During his time in the Senate representing Massachusetts, Brown had a mixed record on women’s issues; he voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act but voted for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. He also cosponsored a bill that would have allowed employers limit coverage of contraception for moral reasons.
Women’s issues have been playing a large role in this election. An August poll from Emily’s List found that 70 percent of “drop off” women voters said that the chance to vote against an anti-choice candidate was “very motivating.” The poll also found that 44 percent of swing voters said that reproductive rights were their top reason to vote for a Democratic candidate and that messaging about women’s health made voters more likely to vote for a generic Democratic candidate. Since the 1980s, women have been more likely to identify as Democrats, and Obama won the women’s vote by 11 percent in 2012.
But the GOP’s efforts to change their messaging to be less offensive to women so far are falling flat; a recent poll by two Republican groups found that women consider the party to be “intolerant” and “stuck in the past,” and that 49 percent of them have a negative view of Republicans. Outside of New Hampshire, Democrats in North Carolina, Iowa, Colorado and Alaska have been criticizing their Republican opponents for their stance on women’s issues, specifically their opposition to reproductive rights.