Can women save the Democrats?

That is the question posed by Washington Post reporter Dan Balz in Sunday’s paper.

As you probably know, the “gender gap” refers to the advantage Democrats have over Republicans with regard to female voters. There is another gender gap-the advantage the GOP has with male voters-but that gets less attention.

The gender gap is interesting because it has traditionally reflected a desire on the part of the female voter for big government programs. We at IWF have long tried to drive home an important point: women need a vibrant economy, not excessive government programs that appear to be free but come out of your family budget in the form of higher taxes.

My own personal theory-ahem-is that the female gender gap will be less important than ever before in the upcoming midterm elections because women voters are just as worried about the bad economy as the guys. We’re in the workplace, and we know how hard it is to find a job. Women are beginning to see that a good economy, not a nanny state, is what we all need.

But what did Dan Balz find?

In a number of states, men are supporting Republican candidates by significant margins, while women are backing Democratic candidates but not by as much as in some past years.

Balz has some breakdowns of particular races, including the intriguing tidbit that female voters are the reason Christine O’Donnell, the Tea Party candidate who beat establishment Republican Mike Castle for the Republican senatorial nomination, is behind. I don’t know what that means, but it’s interesting, no?

Balz also offered a glimpse at a race in which the gender gap, as traditionally defined, seems to be disappearing:

Ed Goeas, a Republican pollster, is conducting polls for former Republican representative John Kasich, who is challenging Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland (Ohio). Goeas said that in his polls, Kasich is running about even among women but is roughly 10 points ahead among men.

“You’re seeing a gender gap, but more in the direction of [Kasich] over-performing with women from where we should be and really over-performing with men compared with where we should be,” he said.

 The gender gap has been part of the political parlance since a Reagan pollster first noticed it when Reagan was running for his first term. Is it finally beginning to close? If so, we really are in a new political landscape.