In 2008, Barack Obama cruised to an easy win over John McCain thanks in large part to a large gender gap -- the Democrat got the support of a narrow plurality of men, but defeated the Republican among women by 13 points.
Four years later, the GOP agenda may very well make the gap even wider.
[President Obama's] standing with female voters is strengthening, polls show, as the economy improves and social issues, including birth control, become a bigger part of the nation's political discourse. [...]
The recent furor over whether religious employers should be forced to pay for their workers' contraception is certainly a factor but hardly the only reason for women warming up to Obama again after turning away from him late last year.
An Associated Press-GfK poll suggests women also are giving the president more credit than men are for the country's economic turnaround.
The numbers are pretty striking, at least at this point in the process. Obama's approval rating among women is up 10 points since December -- a period that includes an improving economy and a renewed culture-war agenda from Republicans -- and in hypothetical match-ups, while the president ties his GOP challengers among men, he leads Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum by 13 and 16 points, respectively.
And while the economic future remains uncertain, Republican policymakers remain eager to pursue policies that push women away, including a vote this week on the odious anti-contraception Blunt Amendment on Capitol Hill, and a variety of offensive measures at the state level.
Patricia Speyerer, an 87-year-old Republican-leaning voter in Mississippi, told the AP, "Republicans are making a big mistake with this contraception talk, and I'm pretty sure that they are giving (the election) to Obama. It's a stupid thing."