02:02 - Source: CNN
Romney sets sights on women voters

Story highlights

Among women, Obama holds 18-point lead over Mitt Romney in battleground states

President has a 15-point advantage among women over Rick Santorum

Controversy over birth control coverage, focus on social issues could be behind gap

Top Republicans say gap will disappear once divisive GOP primary ends

Washington CNN —  

Even Mitt Romney admits that he’s got his work cut out for him to reach out to female voters as he transitions from the Republican presidential nomination battle to what will most likely be his general election matchup against President Barack Obama.

“We have work, we have work to do, to make sure we take our message to the women of America, so they understand how we’re going to get good jobs and we’re going to have a bright economic future for them and for their kids, and make sure that these distortions that the Democrats throw in are clarified and the truth is heard,” Romney said Sunday in Middleton, Wisconsin.

As of now, when it comes to female voters, the numbers don’t add up very well for the former Massachusetts governor or for the GOP.

A USA Today/Gallup poll of 12 possible battleground states (which will be contested in November) indicates that the president holds a 9-point lead over Romney, 51%-42%.

Break the numbers down to genders, and it’s basically all tied up among men, but among women, Obama holds an 18-point lead, 54%-36%. According to the survey, released Sunday, the president has a slightly smaller but still large 15-point advantage among women over former Sen. Rick Santorum, Romney’s main rival for the GOP nomination.

Other polls also point to a gender gap: A CNN/ORC International survey released last week indicated Obama leading Romney nationwide among registered voters by 11 points, 54%-43%, up from a 5-point advantage in February. Among women, the president’s lead grows to a 60%-37% margin.