Maggie Gallagher

Will chicks dig Mitt?

Or did Republicans blow it by attacking President Obama's decision to impose intrusive new mandates on religious charities requiring the nuns of EWTN, a Catholic television network, to pay for insurance that provides abortion-inducing drugs and contraception to women?

Team Obama would clearly like us to believe Republican attacks on Obamacare's mandates alienated women.

Why let the facts get in the way of a narrative that steers Republicans clear of a winning message?

That's the only thing this rational woman can conclude when I take a serious look at polling data.

The first hint there's something wrong with this narrative is that most of the Obama surge took place only in swing states, as Stuart Rothenberg points out this week in Roll Call.

In late March, Obama led Romney by 9 points in 12 swing states, according to the Gallup Swing State, a reversal from Romney's 2-point lead in late February. An even bigger swing occurred among women under 50, whose support for Obama grew from 49 percent to 61 percent in the same month.

But national Gallup polls among women under 50 show exactly the opposite trend from the Gallup swing state polls: Obama's support actually dropped by 4 points from 59 percent to 55 percent among women under 50 over the same period.

Why would national TV coverage produce big swings only in swing states?

Here's another problem with the theory: If the "Republican war on women" is driving the change in women's polls, why did Romney's support among men nationally drop dramatically as well? Rothenberg notes: "Among men, Romney's 16-point advantage in October shrunk to just 3 points in March."

"I can't explain the different results, and I'm not trying to," Rothenburg concludes.

Let me take a stab.

The swing state poll looks at opinions in 12 key states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

What was happening in these states? Why did Romney lose ground against Obama this spring?

First in many of these 12 swing states, Romney's GOP opponents were airing attack ads on Romney, and Romney was airing attacks against his GOP opponents. Attack ads of both kinds tend to drive down a candidate's favorability.


Maggie Gallagher

Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.