Polls are a tricky business, even more so when it comes to gauging particular voting blocs. For a while, Romney polled at 0% with African-American voters. And for a while, Romney trailed Obama nationally by double-digits when it came to women. But now, with the election just a few weeks out, the polls may have shifted, at least when it comes to the gender split.
On Monday, Rasmussen Reports, a right-leaning polling service, showed Romney attracting support from 49% of voters nationwide in their daily Presidential Tracking Poll. President Obama is polling at about from 47%. 4% of voters aren't going for either candidate: 2% prefer some other candidate, and 2% are undecided. (Daily tracking history here.)
However, at the New York Times, Nate Silver explains that the gender gap has reached historic highs.
"If only women voted, President Obama would be on track for a landslide re-election, equaling or exceeding his margin of victory over John McCain in 2008. Mr. Obama would be an overwhelming favorite in Ohio, Florida, Virginia and most every other place that is conventionally considered a swing state. The only question would be whether he could forge ahead into traditionally red states, like Georgia, Montana and Arizona.
"If only men voted, Mr. Obama would be biding his time until a crushing defeat at the hands of Mitt Romney, who might win by a similar margin to the one Ronald Reagan realized over Jimmy Carter in 1980. Only California, Illinois, Hawaii and a few states in the Northeast could be considered safely Democratic. Every other state would lean red, or would at least be a toss-up."
Silver concludes that although different polls show different trends when it comes to gender, what is clear is that the gap between men and women voters seems to be increasing.
Last week's debate catered to "women's issues" like health care, reproductive rights, and economic issues which are particularly salient for women, like equal pay and affirmative action. The vice presidential debate the week before hit on the issue of abortion, which has once again been important for single-issue voters this election, particularly women.
But these issues have not — and likely will not — win over the entire "women bloc." (If, again, such a thing exists.) As economic issues are placed in contrast to social issues (with the notable exception of Barack Obama's last debate speech about birth control coverage), women can expect more pitches on such topics, but likely will not hear them except on the campaign trail.
Monday night's debate on foreign policy may not result in quit the same effects for either Romney or Obama, but it will be interesting to see the effect that it does have when it comes to the gender gap. Examining the post-debate poll bump may lend more insight, but for the moment, it appears that gender-based trends are recurring and salient in election 2012.