Winning the 47 Percent


A new Democracy Corps and Women's Voices. Women Vote Action Fund research looks at disengaged voters, Obama defectors, and unmarried women.

Single women, people of color and young people – the Rising American Electorate -- voted for change in 2008. To understand the dynamics of this election, Women’s Voices. Women Vote Action Fund and Democracy Corps engaged in a three-phase research project with a particular emphasis on disengaged voters, Obama defectors, and unmarried women.  This project included a national survey, focus groups among unmarried and married women in Fairfax, Virginia and Columbus, Ohio, and dial meter research during the first presidential debate with follow up focus groups in Denver, Colorado.

What is clear is that unmarried women are more likely to engage and turn out when they are convinced they have a stake in the outcome of the election – and that there is a powerful argument that can be made to persuade them to show up and vote their values.

It is a pretty straightforward story.  President Obama was pushing toward his 2008 margin among the Rising American Electorate– particularly unmarried women – according to this pivotal research completed right before the first debate.  But the debate touched on none of the issues that have moved these voters.

According to this survey and focus groups, Obama can get to 2008 levels when he makes Romney own ‘the 47 percent’ and offers a robust message to make this country work for the middle class again – with more punch and choice, more values, more on the consequences of unequal power, and above all, big policy choices that go well beyond the thin rhetoric of the first debate. 

Read the full memo, frequency questionnaire, and graphs here.