He’s flirted with Anna Wintour, Sarah Jessica Parker, and even Eva Longoria. But now, our president’s got a new galpal — the oh-so-hip, 20-something actress Lena Dunham.
Last week the Obama campaign released a tasteless ad featuring Dunham, creator of the HBO series “Girls,” comparing voting for Obama to losing one’s virginity.
Many people found the ad offensive. But it wasn’t aimed at the general populace. It was aimed at young, single women — a craven attempt to convince them to give their vote to Obama.
Why is Obama desperately courting “all the single ladies?”
Today, unmarried women — more than 55 million people — represent one of largest voting blocs.
In 2008, Obama easily won the female vote, with 57 percent of the overall women’s vote and 70 percent of the single women’s vote. Although popular with the ladies, in 2008 Obama also appealed to men, whose votes he split almost evenly with John McCain (49-48 percent).
Today, men prefer Romney. Some polls have Romney beating Obama with men by 5 percentage points, others by as much as 17. At the same time, the female gender gap appears to be narrowing. Recent polls show women split this time around (50 percent for Obama and 48 percent for Romney). Although one gap still exists: Married women favor Romney by almost 13 points.
In ’08, Obama’s candidacy unified Americans of all backgrounds. But after four years in office, Obama has proven himself a divider. And so now he can win only by cobbling together a patchwork of disparate factions. Hence the Obama campaign’s obsession with abortion (euphemistically called “women’s health”), contraception, the “Life of Julia,” and now Lena Dunham.
Such tactics might fire up the liberal base, but unfortunately for the president, they do little to motivate independent women. My 26-year-old neighbor, Chelsea, is a case in point. In 2008, Chelsea was a college senior.
“There was a lot of hype about Obama on campus. He had a cool wife, a nice family. McCain was so old school. Obama seemed like someone my generation could relate to.” Chelsea voted for Obama.
And like many of her classmates, she then spent the next few years waiting tables and interning for free, while looking for a professional job. Finally, a family connection helped her land a good position with a research company in Boston. But many of her peers today remain unemployed or underemployed. So, Chelsea is breaking up with Barry.
“I have a lot of friends who are still struggling. Jobs should have been the president’s priority,” she says. “There hasn’t been a noticeable change.”
Chelsea is disillusioned with the president, but not particularly enamored with Mitt Romney.
“I don’t trust him. When he talks, he bombards you with so much information, it’s hard to tell what’s true.”
And so, this year Chelsea may abstain — from voting that is.
Doesn’t she worry that the Republicans are waging a “war on women”?
“Of course not. It’s all bull(bleep), really,” she says.
“Free birth control and health care are great from a young person’s perspective. But nobody really thinks Republicans want to eliminate these things. It’s a question of who pays. We get that. These issues are not deal breakers.”
And what of equal pay? “This is 2012.” We’ve had equal pay laws in this country since the 1960s, and Chelsea sees through Democratic efforts to portray Republicans as anti-equality.
“They are trying to make a lot out of nothing.”
And so they are. Because, as Chelsea and Lena Dunham both know, that is what you do when you are trying to save a broken relationship.