Insight: Women voters helped make Obama; could they break him?

Sat Nov 3, 2012 6:18pm EDT
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By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Women helped propel Barack Obama to the White House in 2008, but their flagging enthusiasm for him reflected in recent polls has created uncertainty about who will capture the female vote in Tuesday's election.

Four years ago, women voters supported Obama over Republican John McCain by 56 percent to 43 percent. Among men, the Democrat led McCain by just 49 percent to 48 percent.

But women's enthusiasm for Obama as president has slipped this year, making his road to re-election more difficult.

He is narrowly favored to win the female vote, but in many national polls, the incumbent's lead over Republican Mitt Romney among likely women voters has dipped to single digits. Reuters/Ipsos polling data last week had it at nearly 5 percentage points. He trailed among likely male voters by about 6 points.

Republicans point to Romney's gains with women since his strong performance in the first presidential debate on October 3.

Marguerite Hunsinger, 59, of Flagler Beach, Florida, who had been undecided, said the debate shifted her to Romney's camp.

"I'd been very, very skeptical about Romney," said Hunsinger, a self-described homemaker. "And I just thought he acted very presidential and capable, and he had answers that I agreed with more."

In contrast, she said Obama "was like asleep. ... It felt like he was just wasn't there."   Continued...

Women point their cameras at the stage as U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign rally in Cleveland, Ohio October 25, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque