Wisconsin Primary 2012: Watch How the Women Vote

  @sara_dover on April 02 2012 7:31 PM
Wisconsin Primary 2012: Watch How the Women Vote
Spoiler: Mitt Romney is probably going to be making a victory speech after the Wisconsin, D.C. and Maryland primaries Tuesday night. Reuters

Spoiler: Mitt Romney is probably going to be making a victory speech after the Wisconsin, Maryland and District of Columbia primaries Tuesday night.

Most polls have the Republican frontrunner leading in the 10-point range over Rick Santorum in Wisconsin. A Rassmussen poll had him in a 17-point lead over the former Pennsylvania senator in Maryland, and Santorum's not even on the ballot in D.C.

The more interesting part of the night is -- what is Ann Romney going to say, and how are the women going to vote?

Ann has been all the rage in Washington circles since she began hitting the campaign trail hard the past few weeks to pitch the idea of President Romney to women, a voting bloc the former Massachusetts governor and his wife have been working hard to win over.

Politico's Lois Romano hailed her for her rock star status in a profile published Monday morning, and her promise to unzip the real Mitt during a radio interview with WBAL made the viral rounds on the internet.

There are a number of reasons why the Romneys are likely worried.

A recent survey by USA Today and Gallup found that President Barack Obama has a significant lead matched against Mitt Romney, with Obama helped by a boost from the ladies.

The president beats Romney 51 percent to 42 percent across about a dozen battleground states, including Wisconsin. Although the two rivals are pretty evenly split among men, there is a widening gap between the incumbent and his potential challenger among women under 50 years old. About 30 percent of women in that age group supported Romney, while the rest went for Obama.

Romney has been trying to win over the female vote for a while. Most exit polls from the 2012 Republican primaries in more conservative states show that Santorum does better among women than Romney does.  Santorum had an eight-point lead over Romney in Alabama and a three-point lead over him in Mississippi.

Additionally, Washington/ABC poll published March 20 shows that Santorum's favorability among Republican and Republican-leaning women has soared from 44 to 66 percent the past month, compared to 57 to 59 percent to Romney. Romney's unfavorability rating among women increased from 20 percent to 32 percent.

Still, it's unsurprising the gap is so much bigger when both parties are involved. Republicans have been giving themselves a bad rep concerning women's issues, particularly with socially conservative stances on contraception and abortion.

Sen. John McCain lost the female vote to Obama 43 percent to 56 percent in 2008, even with Sarah Palin as his running mate. As they were four years ago, women will be a much sought after voting bloc in 2012.

The Romney campaign certainly recognizes the need to get women enthusiastic about his candidacy and Ann has been lauded as the antidote to Romney's problem with appearing stiff and disconnected, as well to attract more female voters.

I love it that women are upset, too, that women are talking about the economy, Ann Romney said at a recent campaign stop in Illinois, according to CBS News.

Her husband echoed her sentiments, focusing on fiscal issues rather than social ones.

You've got moms that are driving their kids to school and practice after school and other appointments and wonder how they can afford putting gasoline in the car, at the same time putting food on the table night after night, he added.

With a number of GOP bigwigs calling for the party to unite behind him -- including House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis.; Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush -- and an increasing number of delegates, Romney has undoubtedly begun eyeing the general election against Obama.

And women, once again, are major players in 2012.

RELATED: Why Mitt Romney's Wife is His Secret Weapon in 2012

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