What a long, long way from June to October. In the last polls, a modest gender gap remained, but the advantage among women had slipped away. By the end of Thursday night's debate, the images of the two candidates had almost flip-flopped.
What happened to the women's vote was simple: The Democrats took women for granted. It was the Republicans who came knocking at the door.
From the beginning, the Republicans knew that Bush needed a biography that women would relate to--and so they presented it. The Republican National Convention was a Bush family reunion. He was no longer the man with the resume but the grandfather.
They knew he needed a language that resonated in women's ears as well, something better than "the value thing"--and so they scripted one for him. His speechwriter, Peggy Noonan, crafted a speech that presented him as caring, a man who wanted "a gentler, kinder nation."