WASHINGTON — In the final two weeks before the elections, female voters peeled away from Democrats in high enough numbers to retain a Republican Congress, according to poll results released Wednesday by Emily's List.
Attacks on President Clinton's character and disclosures about Democratic campaign finance irregularities pushed women who voted for Clinton toward Republican congressional candidates, said pollster Stanley Greenberg. Greenberg and pollster Celinda Lake conducted the post-election survey of 1,802 voters. The pullback did not affect votes for Clinton himself.
In addition, women began to think more positively about the Republican Congress in the second half of 1996 after passage of a welfare bill, a minimum-wage increase and health insurance portability legislation, Greenberg said.
"There was a six-[percentage] point pullback from the Democrats in the last two weeks among women," said Greenberg. "Women voted to give Democrats a six-point margin, but that is half the margin the Democrats had in the earlier period, March through May.
"The pullback in the end, away from the Democrats, came from more traditional women voters--homemakers, married moms, low-wage workers and Catholics."
In March, female voters thought the Republican Congress had failed, by a 48%-37% margin. By November, women thought Congress had succeeded, 51% to 39%, Greenberg said. He conducted the poll for Emily's List, a women's activist organization for Democratic abortion-rights supporters.
The poll found the Democrats' rating on ethics and honesty moved from a 5-point advantage in March to a 15-point disadvantage in November.