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NARAL Aims to Bring Back Female Voting Bloc

In a presidential election where the nation’s 104 million female voters will be a much-wooed bloc, NARAL Pro-Choice America has narrowed its top targets to just more than 300,000 women in 25 swing counties.

The pro-abortion-rights lobby says these women support abortion rights and voted for President Barack Obama four years ago but have defected because the economy and other issues.

NARAL wants them back.

In an example of extreme microtargeting, the group plans to spend $2.5 million to $3 million in a new independent expenditure effort that it will launch next month.

The persuasion will come in the form of 1.2 million pieces of mail, live phone calls from volunteers and advertising on social media and cable TV.

“We think these 25 counties are the ones that are going to decide this election,” NARAL Political Director Elizabeth Shipp said during a press briefing Wednesday. The counties include Fairfax and Loudoun in Virginia; Adams and Denver in Colorado; Cuyahoga and Franklin in Ohio; and Hillsborough and Pinellas in Florida.

Shipp added that the “Obama defectors,” as NARAL has dubbed its targets, “can come back to the fold” for the president on the issue of abortion.

Obama says he supports abortion rights, while GOP candidate Mitt Romney labels himself as anti-abortion.

NARAL President Nancy Keenan said her organization’s “new and vigorous model” identifying these female voters could very well help get Obama re-elected. “Our job is to communicate with these voters about why they need to vote for [Obama],” she said.

But NARAL, of course, will not be alone in these battleground states.

Former Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.), who is vice president of government affairs for the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List, said she just wrapped up a bus tour through five states and 30 cities.

Her organization, like others that oppose abortion rights, plans to target voters, especially women in swing states.

“We are going to beat the drum,” she said. “We’re doing bus tours, radio and TV ads in the battleground states where we know it can make all the difference.”

Musgrave said her effort is about highlighting Obama’s “extreme” position on abortion, including on sex-selection abortions.

“I’m out there talking about Obamacare, the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade,” the former Congresswoman said.

On NARAL’s campaign, Keenan said her organization worked with Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research to identify 5.1 million women nationwide who are most likely to be Obama defectors who support abortion rights. That population was whittled down to 1.2 million women in nine battleground states including Ohio, Colorado and Florida. The group then went even further, identifying about 338,000 women who lived in what were considered key swing counties. NARAL plans to use 60,000 of those women as a control group to see whether its messaging was effective, Shipp said. Those 60,000 will not receive the calls or mailings from NARAL.

GQRR Vice President Drew Lieberman called the NARAL effort efficient, strategic and unique.

“It puts them in a position to have a really meaningful impact on this election,” he said.

NARAL plans to share its list – which is based on survey and consumer data – with other progressive organizations and the campaigns of candidates who back abortion rights.

Other women and abortion-rights groups have undertaken similar efforts. EMILY’s List, for example, announced on Tuesday an effort to target women in New Hampshire as part of its WOMEN VOTE! campaign. That focuses on Congressional races in the Granite State, according to a press release.

And Planned Parenthood recently began airing ads against Romney in battleground states. The spots, worth more than $3 million, say the GOP candidate would turn back the clock on women’s health.

NARAL’s political action committee also is on pace to spend about $750,000 this cycle, Shipp said.

The group received an influx of cash this year after Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) made comments about women who are victims of “legitimate” rape not needing abortions because their bodies don’t allow a pregnancy to occur. Akin later apologized.

Musgrave said her side is energized, too, and is drawing on the polling of anti-
abortion organizations showing that most women think there should be a ban on abortions based on what the gender of the child will be and those done late in a pregnancy.

“I live in Colorado, and this last election after candidate Obama said he wanted to find common ground on the issue, I’d be driving down I-25 and see a pro-life sticker and an Obama sticker on the same car,” Musgrave said. “We are doing everything we can to make sure they know this president did anything but find common ground on the issue.”

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