Presidential Debate Connects on Equal Pay
October 17th, 2012
Finally. The candidates for president talked about issues that touched real women’s lives – equal pay, health care and contraception, and education. And early evidence is that the debate over the disparity in pay between women and men (women make 77 cents to a man’s dollar) connected with the public. Equal pay and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was one of the top three Google searches during the debate:
President Obama framed pay and health issues not as women’s issues, but as economic, family and middle class issues, affirming research findings released last week by WVWVAF and Democracy Corps. According to the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent, “Obama’s framing of women’s health as an economic issue will surely resonate among the unmarried women he failed to connect with last time.”
Unmarried women — women who are divorced, separated, widowed or never been married — are a huge, rapidly growing part of the electorate and they could make the difference in key races this year. They make up 25 percent of the voting age population nationally and account for an even larger percentage of the population in 19 battleground states including Nevada, New Mexico, and North Carolina. They are the fastest-growing demographic group in the nation –and they think of themselves as “the 47 percent” — those Americans Mitt Romney said, “are dependent upon government and believe that they are victims entitled to health care, food, and housing.”
Our research found that unmarried women see everything from income inequality to women’s reproductive health services as part of, not separate from, the economic issues surrounding the 47 percent. The second presidential debate acknowledged the economic realities that define the lives of unmarried women.