Study: ‘Wal-Mart Moms’ shifting away from democrats

The so-called “Wal-Mart Moms” — a group of traditionally Democratic-leaning, Wal-Mart-shopping, childrearing female voters — may be shifting toward Republicans in 2010, a new study shows.

The poll, commissioned by Wal-Mart and carried out by both Democratic and Republican research firms in May, has left political strategists wondering how to craft messages and policy to appeal to the swing group, which makes up 16 percent of the electorate.

As a voting bloc, Wal-Mart Moms approve of President Obama (53 percent), self-identify as Democrats (43 percent), heavily support environmental groups (75 percent), and favor gay rights (51 percent).

But the same bloc, which voted for Obama over McCain in 2008, supports the National Rifle Association and conservative religious groups by more than 50 percent. Nearly half (46 percent) of Wal-Mart Moms say they support the Tea Party movement. As a whole, the poll found that most Wal-Mart Moms consider themselves to have “moderate” political views.

“They’re conflicted,” said Republican pollster Neil Newhouse, who co-authored the study. “They like Obama, and they want more activist government. But when it gets to specifics, they disagree.”

On one hand, 60 percent of those polled said that they believe “government should do more to solve problems and help meet the needs of the people.” But specific policy proposals that require a more heavy-handed government — take the recently passed health-care overhaul, for example — find favor from only 14 percent of the group. In fact, 42 percent said that the Affordable Care Act would make things worse for them and their families.

But the finding that will likely make incumbents and political strategists most nervous is that more than 61 percent of the group said it disapproves of the job that Congress is doing in Washington. With so many battleground states for the taking in November, the study shows that Wal-Mart Moms are tilting toward Republicans.

“It shows how swing and up for grabs they are as a group,” said Margie Omero, President of Momentum Analysis, a Democratic polling firm that conducted the Wal-Mart survey.

To appeal to the voting bloc, Newhouse said, parties must show how issues will affect Americans directly and shy away from talk of deficits and government spending.

“You’ve got to personalize the issues rather than talk about the federal budget in Washington,” he said.

In the wake of one of the worst recessions in decades, most of the Wal-Mart Moms said that the economy is the most important issue. According to the study, two-thirds of those polled said that they were dissatisfied with their own financial situation, and almost half admitted that they felt anxious about falling out of their present social class.

“These women will carry a significant financial burden with them into the voting booth,” the study’s authors concluded. “Candidates ignore this key voting segment at their own peril.”