Amid worrisome polls, Democrats make new pitch for women votes

Story highlights

  • Top Democrats speak at Women's Leadership Forum
  • Polls indicate women are critical of Obama's performance
  • There are concerns this could hurt Democrats in upcoming midterm contests
Democrats were making an election-year pitch to women on Friday, mindful of their past advantage among the voting bloc and hoping to convince enough women to cast ballots for their candidates in November's mid-term contests.
Without strong turnout and support from women, Democrats stand little chance of keeping control of the Senate -- the party's top priority this year.
The biggest draw at the Democrats' Women's Leadership Forum in Washington was Hillary Clinton, their leading 2016 potential presidential contender and, in the minds of some Democrats, a potential boost to mid-term candidates. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden also were on the event's roster.
"We have fought for families, for moms and dads and kids and the values that hold us all together," Clinton said during her midday speech, which was warmly received by the room of party activists.
Women have provided Democrats a boost in recent elections, including in 2012, when 55% voted for Obama in that year's presidential contest. But as Obama's poll numbers have slid, so, too, has his support among women.
The most recent CNN survey of Obama's popularity showed 55% of women disapproved of how Obama is handling his job -- the same percentage that voted for him in 2012. That disapproval rate was on par with the figure for men.
On pressing issues including terrorism, the economy and Ukraine, more women than men disapprove of how Obama's doing his job.
Those figures worry Democrats, whose prospects in this year's contests are closely pinned to voters' perception of Obama. Those anxieties have led to scant invites for Obama on the campaign trail.
Less worrisome in the mind of some party operatives is Clinton, who's been enlisted to stump for candidates in several states ahead of the November 4 vote.
On Friday, she said the congressional and gubernatorial contests were just as important as the higher-profile presidential race she's currently considering.
"I know they might not be as glamorous as presidential elections," Clinton said of midterms, but they're nonetheless "crucial for our country's future."
Listing candidates such as gubernatorial hopefuls Mary Burke (Wisconsin) and Wendy Davis (Texas), Clinton said women candidates "give me hope" for the future of keeping issues like pay equity and the minimum wage at the fore.
"We have fought for families, for moms and dads and kids and the values that hold us all together," she said. "So don't let anyone dismiss what you're doing here today as women's work. Don't let anyone send you back to the sidelines."
Earlier, Biden touted his own record advocating for stricter laws to punish violence against women, and claimed modern-day Republicans weren't upholding their party's history.
"It wasn't Democrats involved. Republicans were the sponsors of raises in the minimum wage. I could go on and on. So I'm not joking. This is not your father's Republican Party," he said.
Republicans countered by claiming Democrats were only interested in "pointing fingers."
"Every day we are talking to women about the issues we all care about -- empowering women at work and at home, creating good paying jobs, building the economy, increasing workplace flexibility, addressing workplace discrimination and modernizing job training," said GOP spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski.