The Independent Women’s Forum and our sister organization, Independent Women’s Voice, came in for strong praise this morning in the Wall Street Journal.
It came from columnist Kimberley Strassel, who notes this morning that the GOP has a "female problem." Strassel argues that the GOP hasn't done a good job of addressing women's issues and could end up losing a crucial segment of the population to an Obama campaign that has offered women nothing more than re-heated feminist ideals from the 1970s. Strassel writes:
Yet Democrats get away with it for one reason: Women appreciate that they are being spoken to directly. Decades of an aversion to "gender politics" has, by contrast, left the GOP with the antiquated view that it shouldn't address women directly on issues that matter specifically to them.
The Romney campaign's idea of engaging female voters is to deputize women to repeat its broad campaign themes.
IWF and IWV, on the other hand, have a history of talking about issues in a way that addresses the genuine concerns of women:
The Republican Party could take some hints from the success of the Independent Women's Forum, an outfit started in the 1990s by free-marketers who wanted a voice distinct from both the feminist left and the cultural right. The IWF's advocacy organization, Independent Women's Voice, has joined in some of today's electoral battles, using direct messaging to speak specifically to women and independents.
It does so by making clear, fact-based arguments on issues that matter to these groups—like health care. Women make 85% of health-care decisions. The GOP tends to bang on about parts of ObamaCare, such as the individual mandate, that are unpopular with its male base. The Independent Women's Voice, by contrast, is directly taking on elements of the law that are popular with women, explaining that seemingly attractive provisions—say, letting 26-year-olds stay on parental insurance—will in fact raise costs and worsen care. In controlled tests of the households where the IWV message had been received, the group found a significant uptick in women and independents who want the law repealed and who support Mr. Romney.
"A lot of political advertising is about sledgehammers and chain saws and beats you over the head," says IWV President and CEO Heather Higgins. "We assume our audience is smart, and want to be able to make up their own minds, and so we present them with facts."
IWV also isn't shy about cutting ads directly aimed at a female audience. That includes its witty "Boyfriend" Web ad, which shows a woman confiding to a friend about a guy who "seemed so perfect" but who just can't "get his act together." The camera subtly pulls back to show a poster of Mr. Obama. The ad was a Web sensation, so much so that the Republican National Committee copied it (with a lower-quality, less thoughtful version). …
This isn't gender politics, and it isn't pandering. It's explaining. And it is an acknowledgment that women are a distinct economic constituency—with challenges markedly different from the men who are the dominant force in the GOP. That's the path to the women's vote.