The Myth of the Security Mom, Disputed

I read with interest Anna Greenberg’s column on The Myth of the Security Mom Revisited. With due respect to Dr. Greenberg and her significant contributions to the field, she seems to suggest that Security Moms don’t really exist, and perhaps that a growing concern about terrorism and national security may be an artificial construct.

Quite the contrary.

One major finding from the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal survey (September 3-7, 2014) is that more Americans feel less safe today than at any time since the 9/11 attack. It is no artifice that 52{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of women today feel that our country is less safe today than we were before September 11th.  In September of 2013, when asked the very same question, just 32{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of women say our country is less safe, and the number was 22{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} who felt less safe in August 2011. It is difficult to conclude given a 30 point increase in the less safe feelings that there is nothing going on.

image 1

And these women more concerned about our safety today cannot be dismissed as simply… Republicans. They are not. Among the women who feel less safe in the NBC/WSJ poll, 40{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} are Democrat and 44{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} are Republican. Apparently security concern does not know party labels.

This is echoed in focus groups across the country. Dr. Greenberg states that feelings of insecurity about international events are “tied up” with other security issues like school shootings in the Walmart Mom groups (which I moderate). These feelings are not tied up, they are heightened and greatly exacerbated by feelings of a loss of control internationally. We were not hearing about international events at the start of the year in focus groups. They are very much a part of the conversation today. In the Walmart Mom groups where participants can barely name the names of those running for office in hotly contested races, they absolutely know that Americans are being killed abroad and the danger that represents to our country.

Dr. Greenberg suggests that “we should not conflate an expression of concern about terrorism as a driver of vote choice.” Granted, national security issues may still take a back seat to domestic concerns, but they do contribute in meaningful ways to the total political environment; an environment in which 62{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of American people disapprove of the President’s handling of foreign policy.

What is also interesting in the Greenberg piece is that the dismissal of “Security Moms” as a narrative-of Republican-convenience comes from the party of the “Contraception Mom” and the “Anti-Personhood Moms.”   Both sides of the aisle use such narratives regularly to make strategic and tactical decisions.

Are not the very first and most frequent ads run in many Democratic campaigns around the country about Republicans who will take away every “women’s health care rights?” Has not Mark Udall run multiple ads in the Colorado Senate race on these issues alone? See below an excerpt from an editorial in this week’s Colorado Springs Gazette on the Democrat narrative:

Could someone please get Sen. Mark Udall a calendar. It’s 2014, not 1972…Udall’s daily fear mongering has become an obvious ploy to distract voters from the real issues in the U.S. Senate. A typical daily news release from his campaign Friday mentioned “birth control” 14 times. If he’s not fabricating a threat to contraception, he’s sending news releases that pretend abortion rights are in play.

In a survey conducted among women in swing Congressional districts earlier this year, just 6{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of women said that social issues like gay marriage and abortion were the most important priorities they would like to see the President and Congress address. (Incidentally, social issues tied with foreign policy and national security issues in importance.) Yet, social issues certainly drive Democrat campaign strategy. Why? Because charges leveled go to the heart of what campaigns are about – trust. In the same way that Democrats ask, who do you trust to protect your reproductive rights, Republicans are now asking who do you trust to protect your families from the terrorists?

The Answer: It’s not the President, or his party. While Democrats have a 28 point advantage on “looking out for the interests of women,” Republicans have an even larger 38 point advantage on “ensuring a strong national defense” and a significant 18-point advantage on “dealing with foreign policy” in the last NBC/WSJ survey.

In the America that has come to know ISIS in the aftermath of the gruesome deaths of two Americans, President Obama’s job approval is suffering, including among women voters where his disapproval number crossed 50{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} for the first time (52{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} disapprove). That does have electoral consequence even at the congressional level – Democrats enjoy their smallest congressional preference number (+7) measured over the last year among women, with a seven point drop from August that tracks the presidential approval slide (+14 Dem preference advantage in August).

Democrats might like their narratives better, but the narrative about Security Moms is real and a credible threat to Democrat campaigns.

Similar Articles

  • Millenials: Will They Make or Break Hillary Clinton?
    read more

  • Swept up in the Presidential Primary Sweepstakes? President Obama still matters.
    read more

  • Opinions on Free Trade in Flux
    read more

  • Spirit of the Season Grips Americans as they Gift & Google.
    read more

  • SENATE DEMOCRATIC INCUMBENTS MAY HAVE ALREADY HIT THE OBAMA CEILING
    read more

Public Opinion Strategies helped us to clarify what we wanted to learn and then conducted research and analysis that shed light even beyond the questions we set out to ask. They were very receptive to our suggestions, responsive to our queries, and flexible when we needed them to be.

Public Opinion Strategies has consistently offered unparalleled advice and spot-on polling that has shaped how and where we spent money and deploy key resources. Additionally, they have always been an excellent steward of limited campaign resources, ensuring we spend wisely and not a dollar more than necessary in order to get the information we need.

Robert Blizzard and Public Opinion Strategies did a great job for us throughout our successful campaign for Congress. Robert gave us accurate data, spot on analysis, and professional advice, all of which were essential to our victory.

Public Opinion Strategies is one of our go-to pollsters when it comes to testing public support for bond ballot measures and other initiative proposals. They are available to provide ongoing consultation with regard to crafting of ballot questions, public outreach messaging, and related efforts.

ACLI has worked with Public Opinion Strategies for decades, through several tough industry battles—often ones in which public opinion does not naturally fall on the side of insurers. Yet Bill and his team consistently provide invaluable strategic advice by refining our messages and helping us frame our issues in a way that makes them understandable and persuasive.

The data from Public Opinion Strategies provided important insight and informed our public awareness campaign. We sincerely appreciate their professionalism and expertise in this arena.

Nicole McCleskey and the team at Public Opinion Strategies have been invaluable to me, both during my campaigns and as Governor of the State of New Mexico. It’s not just the accuracy of their numbers, but guiding the overall strategy that makes them so valuable.

Public Opinion Strategies has been a part of our team in Missouri for more than a decade. With their data and guidance, Republicans here were able to attain a majority in the House in 2002 for the first time in fifty years, and we have been able to grow that majority to the point that we now have a record, veto-proof majority.

In my tenure at two leading business associations, facing huge and complex consumer issues, I have benefitted enormously from the objective advisory skills of Bill and his team. They do their homework, they are rigorous, dispassionate and thoughtful. Turning questions into answers is a clever tag, but it’s also an apt description of the professional talents of the firm.

I consider Public Opinion Strategies to be a part of our team. That is the way we have always worked. They have helped us to understand our needs and fashioned research solutions to meet those needs. They have helped us to meet killer deadlines by being flexible, executing rapidly, and insuring quality. Teamwork is the best way to describe it.

Accuracy, speed, and deep knowledge of key issues and public sentiment are the hallmarks of quality opinion research, and on these measures Public Opinion Strategies consistently delivers. I have had the pleasure of working with Public Opinion Strategies for more than 15 years on dozens of issues, and they are undoubtedly the gold standard.

Public Opinion Strategies’ track record of success and wealth of experience in political campaigns and issue advocacy are why they are one of the most trusted and well respected public opinion firms in Washington, D.C. Their insights and perspectives have helped to inform a wide array of public affairs activities across multiple industries.