Gender gap persists on Election Day, helps Obama, haunts Romney

The gender gap that seemed to haunt Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney into the final weeks of the campaign persisted on Election Day, according to preliminary exit polls.

CNN national exit polls showed that 54 percent of women cast their votes for President Barack Obama on Tuesday, compared to 44 percent for Romney.

Romney, however, was winning the vote among men, 53 percent to 45 percent, according to the exit polls.

As in 2008, this year’s exit polls indicated that women represent 53 percent of the electorate, compared to men’s 47 percent.

The exit polls showed states like Virginia with a 5 percentage-point gender gap, Pennsylvania with a 12 percentage-point gap, Ohio also with a 12 percentage-point gap and New Hampshire with a 10 percentage-point gap.

Romney had been closing the gender gap in polls conducted in the weeks leading up to Election Day. An Associated Press-GfK poll from late October suggested that Romney and Obama were tied among women, 47 percent to 47 percent, after Romney had trailed the president among women by 16 percentage points only a month earlier.

The president and his surrogates nevertheless continued to push the narrative that Republicans and Romney are hostile to women’s health concerns, specifically abortion access.

Democrats, including the Obama campaign, pushed aggressive “choice” and health advertisements in states like Virginia in recent weeks and promoted spokeswomen like Sandra Fluke and Planned Parenthood head Cecile Richards as the voice for women.

The Romney campaign downplayed social issues throughout the campaign, insisting that women were more concerned with the economy. A couple of recent ill-advised statements about rape by Republican Senate candidates Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana, however, brought social issues back into national focus.

The night is not over yet, but women appear to have been good to Obama on Election Day.

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