While independents may have thrown their support to Mitt Romney in key battleground states, exit poll data shows that women voters helped President Barack Obama win the White House.
"Moms had a great deal at stake in this election and they voted their interests," Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, the executive director and co-founder of MomsRising, said in a statement. "From making the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act the first bill he signed into law as president, to his historic achievement of implementing health care reform, President Obama has stood up for women, moms and their families and in this election, we stood up for him."
Obama made his case with women voters early in the season, underscoring what many called a GOP-led "War on Women" and focusing on reproductive rights, access to health care and fair pay issues. According to ABC News, the president had a 12-point lead among women on Tuesday, up from his 8-point lead in 2008.
In October, Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood, and Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke—who was branded a "slut" by Rush Limbaugh after she tried to testify before Congress about birth control—campaigned on the president's behalf, launching a series of "Romney-Ryan: Wrong for Women" events across the country in the months leading up to the election.
"I think that women are half this country, and we are more than half of the voters in this country," Fluke told Yahoo! Shine in an interview in August. "Every election should be addressing the issues that are important to us."
Insensitive comments about "legitimate rape" may have cost Republican Congressman Todd Akin the Senate race in Missouri. And in Indiana, Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly beat State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, a tea party-backed candidate who said during a recent debate that pregnancy from rape "is something God intended to happen." While politicians from both sides of the aisle distanced themselves from Akin's and Mourdock's remarks, Romney remained mostly silent.
Suburban women are always a coveted demographic during a presidential campaign, but while the Romney campaign held weekly women's phone banks where female volunteers made calls to women and asked them to vote Republican, Obama's team held meetings, house parties, and small roundtable discussions with first lady Michelle Obama.
Democrats tend to exploit the gender gap, Dianne Bystrom, director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University told Forbes. "He had to woo female voters in 2008 but had to be much more subtle so as not to put off Hillary Clinton supporters because he needed their vote," she said.
In 2012, subtlety wasn't needed.