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Preview: RealClearPolitics - Articles - Carol Taber

RealClearPolitics - Articles - Carol Taber

Last Build Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2006 00:35:47 -0600

Copyright: Copyright 2007

Debunking the Debunking of Security Moms

Thu, 19 Oct 2006 00:35:47 -0600

The problem with the APSA measurement is that security moms cannot be defined by a demographic. There are close to 34 million women in the demographic "mothers with children at home", many of whom don't even think about national security, and there are equally mothers outside of this demographic who have, for instance, college age children who are not at home, and who do think about national security as the single most important determinant of their vote. In other words, security moms must be defined with the inclusion of a psychographic measurement that incorporates interests and values, not merely with a demographic one, and both qualifiers must be accurate. In August, the Washington Post used the same flawed thinking to proclaim, "Married women with children, the 'security moms' whose concerns about terrorism made them an essential part of Republican victories in 2002 and 2004, are taking flight from GOP politicians this year in ways that appear likely to provide a major boost for Democrats in the midterm elections, according to polls and interviews." If the Pew Research Center who compiled the data for the Washington Post had selected their measurement more accurately, they would have found more women the Post highlighted like Dolores Guerra-Sox, a married mother in Sterling Heights, Mich., who said she "will stick with Republicans in the congressional races. 'We need somebody who is not going to make us take more steps back' as she thinks President Clinton did in the 1990s.... 'My interest is what happened to us on 9/11.'" There is only one research and polling organization I know of that correctly captured the Security Mom phenomenon, and that is Kellyanne Conway's the polling company™, inc./WomanTrend. Kellyanne also appeared with me on the Zahn show. In her organization's 2004 Presidential Election Night survey of 800 actual voters nationwide, Conway found that Security Moms indeed helped to push President Bush past the 50% mark. The study found that although John Kerry won women overall by 3% (while Al Gore had won them by 11% in 2000), "Security Moms (married women with children who cite the war in Iraq or terrorism as the most important issue in deciding their vote) supported the President over Kerry by 18 points (59% - 41%, respectively)." Adding the all-important psychographic measurement of citing the war and terrorism as the most important issue for their vote is precisely what qualifies these women as "security moms". With proof like this, how anyone could say that Security Moms do not exist or do not influence elections is beyond me. Yet some have. Debbie Walsh at The Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University in New Jersey stated in the run-up to the '04 election that women who fit the Security Mom mold are just the average affluent white women who vote Republican anyway, and did so before 9/11. "A lot of the women who fit into this category are Bush supporters to begin with," said Walsh. "It's a false concept." This is an impression shared by others. Yet turning once again to Conway's succinct measurements, we find this statement not to be true. As Conway herself states, "Security Moms most certainly are not congenitally Republican." Proof of her statement is how they actually voted in '04. While it is accurate that most of these voters were white (93%), married women with children who cite the war in Iraq or terrorism as the most important issue in deciding their vote, and who voted for President Bush, were comprised of 45% Republicans, 31% Democrats and 25% Independents, or put another way, 45% Conservative, 32% Moderate and 22% Liberal. Hardly the Rush Limbaugh audience profile. I speak to legions of security moms every day, our organization focus groups with them and polls them, and through my experience of having worked in the magazine industry as a women's magazine publisher, I have for decades researched and carried on national conversations with the women's market. What is different in this election for Security Moms is that the Iraq war has taken some precedence [...]

Memories of My Own on Memorial Day

Mon, 29 May 2006 16:59:48 -0600

We speak of a military death as a sacrifice given to preserve our brilliant and beloved country and our very privileged and peaceful way of life. We envision these deaths where they most often occur - on the battlefield, as our children and neighbors and husbands are transformed into fallen heroes who fall under enemy fire and die heroically in an effort to defeat America's enemies. But there are other deaths too, not so heroic but even more tragic and sacrificial, that occur in every war and their toll needs to be counted in the measure of whether war is worth the sacrifice we all make.

A few such deaths stand out particularly for me and I always remember their haunting images when Memorial Day rolls around. I hesitate to discuss them on this page, as today should be a day to call forth the best feelings and courage in us all, especially in an effort to sustain us through another generation's war which we simply must see through to its successful end. But it isn't authentic to remember only those who died as John Wayne would have died; we must remember them all. So I now ask us to remember those Americans who have died so their country may live, though their sacrifices often go unnoticed.

One such soldier, and an old friend, suffered from a prolonged struggle with post traumatic stress syndrome following Vietnam and died by his own hand years later in front of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. Right before he committed this act, he shot and killed his wife in front of their children. Theirs was a brutal and stunning sacrifice of which many outside the military do not take notice. But it was a tragic American family sacrifice nonetheless and they must surely both be counted, as well as their children, as among the nearly 1.3 million casualties of our wars dating back to, and including, the Civil War. There are more of these kinds of deaths, both physical and spiritual, than we would like to acknowledge. But these casualties need to be honored as all the others are honored, too. They have all made the ultimate sacrifice, whether willing or not, so that we may not have to.

Innocent lives are taken in every war and are counted as collateral damage. It is impossible for me to say with the same certainty whether this sort of sacrifice is "worth it" for the rest of us, although I think it is. If it weren't for America and all that it does and represents, hundreds of millions across the world would not be living in peaceful societies now and many - perhaps the person who will one day cure a dreadful disease - would not even have been born. Our military is used for good purposes: to protect and bring hope to the many even though the few are devastated in the process. While others say that not one life is worth the agony of war, I know that wars fought by the United States military are carried out for the good of the world community and thus are worth it to fight and to die in if necessary.

I will never know if our friend died because of the cravenness of self-interested politicians who rendered his service futile and unworthy by pulling the plug prematurely on that highly divisive war. I can only hope and pray that the same political mistakes will not be made this time around. We have decades ahead of us in this war against radical Islam; let us screw up our courage and wholeheartedly support whatever presidents have to execute this war and stand firmly behind our soldiers, too, so that none of them faces the overwhelming despair that comes from facing violence and death and returning to an ungrateful and clueless nation.