According to a Rutgers University study, during every Presidential election since 1964, more women have turned out to vote than men. That proportion has been increasing significantly in the last few elections, in 2008, almost 10 million more women voted than men, out of about 130 million votes cast.
Again, according to Rutgers, ever since the 1980’s more women have identified themselves as Democrats than Republicans. So KBIA’s Jessica Reese decided to talk to Republican women here in Mid-Missouri – about what this important group of voters is thinking this election year.
Sherry Berry is making calls for her husband’s campaign. She goes down a spreadsheet of names and numbers, and clarifies they belong to Republican voters. This one goes to an answering machine.
“Hi, my name is Sherry Berry and my husband Fred Berry who is running for representative in the 36th district recently knocked on your door and…”
Berry’s been active in Columbia’s Republican community for years, but never in a role like she has now.
“He said ah what do you think? Well if you promise me it will be fun,” Berry said, laughing.
Between planning fundraising events, attending meetings, and making phone calls she says the workload can be a lot. Yet, she says every woman’s participation is essential in this election.
“All too often I think we women kind of sit back and don’t take part, and we maybe don’t even know the issues, and I think it’s really crucial especially in this election that we get involved and fight for our rights,” Berry said.
There are more women like Berry who share this view in Columbia. Every month The Boone County Federated Republican Women, a group of 40 women, meet to listen to local republican candidates, discuss issues and to simply come together as women with similar politics.
It doesn’t take much asking to find out that the economy seems to be an issue on all of their minds.
The group’s president Laura Nausser, and fellow member Pat Powell say their concern for the economy is rooted in the well being of their family.
“As a mother those things are very concerning for me because I have a son who is graduating and a daughter who is going to be having my first grandchild, and so there are a lot important issues for women,” Nausser said.
“We have grandchildren, and we want this country to be in good shape for them in the future, and we’re a little worried for the future,” Powell said.
Retired teacher Paula Hudspeth says she thinks the biggest obstacle facing republicans in this election is its image. She worries about Todd Akin, and the light his controversial comments has shown on Republicans in Missouri.
U.S. Representative and Senatorial candidate Todd Akin’s comments on rape brought up a larger issue of this election: policies affecting women. Although his candidacy created a divide between some Republican women in this group, the response to the election’s buzz term “War on Women,” is the same.
“I think if you study the issues, you see there is no war on women. People complain they want choice, but then Republicans stand for choice, and say women should be able to make the choice. And, we don’t want government to pay for these things for us. It’s a personal choice whether it’s contraceptives or job employment,” Nausser said.
Back at one of Columbia’s Republican Headquarters, Berry continues to make calls. One after the other she is put into voicemail.
In a city like Columbia that typically votes democratic, she says her persistence is worth it.
“I think one vote can make a difference in this election,” Berry said.
And finally, what she calls a “live one;” someone picks up the phone.
“Well great, just make sure to vote for him in November.”