The first-ever presidential straw poll for women: why it’s important

Teri Christoph Contributor
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This coming July, conservative women from around the country will meet in St. Louis, Missouri, for the third annual Smart Girl Summit (SGS), the yearly conference of Smart Girl Politics Action. Smart Girl Politics Action is a non-profit organization founded in 2008 to bring more conservative women into the political arena, be it as activists or as candidates. Previous conferences have featured such conservative rock stars as Michele Bachmann, Liz Cheney, Michelle Malkin, Marsha Blackburn, S.E. Cupp and many other leading conservative voices from politics, media and the grassroots.

The theme of Smart Girl Summit 2011 is “Gateway to 2012,” and the focus will be on preparing conservative activists for the all-important presidential election cycle. As part of this year’s conference, Smart Girl Politics Action, in conjunction with VOICES of Conservative Women, will conduct the first-ever presidential straw poll decided exclusively by women. This groundbreaking straw poll could well be an important bellwether for those who hope to inhabit the White House come January 20, 2013.

Women are an important voting constituency: the 2010 U.S. Census shows there are 157.2 million females versus 153.2 million males, and The Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University has found that women are heading to the polls in greater numbers than men:

In recent elections, voter turnout rates for women have equaled or exceeded voter turnout rates for men. Women, who constitute more than half the population, have cast between four and seven million more votes than men in recent elections. In every presidential election since 1980, the proportion [of] female adults who voted has exceeded the proportion of made adults who voted.

Women as a whole take their 19th Amendment rights very seriously. In the past two years, we have seen conservative women in particular take a more active role in driving the actions and conversations of the grassroots. Women, fed up with the overreach of the federal government, have stepped forward as leaders of the tea party movement, accounting for an estimated 55% of tea party activists. (Indeed, Smart Girl Politics Action was one of the three national sponsoring organizations of the 2009 tea parties.)

And we see in Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, two leaders who are unapologetic in their conservative values, the ability to direct the national dialogue toward those issues important to the grassroots. Smart Girl Politics Action was borne out of the need for more conservative women voices in the public arena and representation at all levels of government. Last year’s “Year of the Woman” saw conservatives achieve great success at the polls, with congressional seats going to rising stars like Kristi Noem, Renee Ellmers, Jaime Herrera and Vicky Hartzler. The SGS Presidential Straw Poll provides a chance to show the value of women in today’s conservative movement and to quantify the kind of leader we would like to see in the White House.

To paraphrase Susan B. Anthony, “Resolved, that the women of this nation in [2011], have greater cause for discontent, rebellion and revolution than the men of 1776.” Conservative women are, to put it mildly, discontent with the state of our nation and we are more than willing, as the facts bear out, to stage our rebellion through activism and our revolution at the ballot box.

We are looking forward to the presidential election cycle, playing our part in selecting the best candidate for the job and doing what it takes to see our candidate through to the White House. And the first-ever presidential straw poll for women is an exciting first step in achieving those goals.

Teri Christoph is Co-Founder of Smart Girl Politics, a non-profit organization for conservative women activists.