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Unmarried women were among Barack Obama’s most loyal supporters in 2008, turning out in droves and delivering 70 percent of their votes to him. When many of them stayed home in the 2010 midterm election, Democrats lost the House and had their Senate majority trimmed.
Now, determined to get single women back, Senate leaders are reshaping their legislative agenda, advancing a bill to bolster workers’ ability to win pay discrimination lawsuits. A similar measure was blocked by Republicans two years ago, and proponents expect it to be rejected again, setting up a contrast between the parties over an issue that especially touches unmarried women.
It will be the third time this year that Senate Democrats will push for votes on policies affecting women, with the other measures focused on insurance coverage for contraceptives and programs for domestic violence victims.
They are aiming to fire up the 55 million single, divorced, separated or widowed U.S. women eligible to vote this year. While 60 percent of all unmarried women cast ballots in 2008, just 38 percent turned out in 2010, said Democratic pollster Celinda Lake. Democratic strategists see these voters as critical to helping return Obama to the White House and to retain Senate seats in Ohio, Virginia and other states.
“What is really at issue is their turnout rate,” Lake said in an interview. “Unmarried younger women plummeted in the turnout in 2010, and they came into this election cycle not very interested in the election.”