- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 21, 2010

President Obama sought to woo another crucial Democratic Party voting bloc Thursday, pitching his administration’s achievements to a group of businesswomen at a backyard chat in Seattle just days before critical midterm congressional elections.

The pep talk comes as Mr. Obama has intensified his outreach to key segments of the party’s base, including blacks, Hispanics and young voters, in a bid to energize Democratic voters as polls continue to show their Republican counterparts are more motivated to show up on Election Day.

Mr. Obama made his latest pitch to female voters in the middle of a four-day, five-state campaign swing focusing on tight races in the Pacific Northwest and Midwest, including two contests involving embattled female incumbents: Sens. Patty Murray of Washington and Barbara Boxer of California. In a backyard meeting at a Seattle home Thursday, he argued that his policies have helped female entrepreneurs.

“Women-owned businesses have grown significantly faster than small businesses overall. But one of the challenges still ends up being financing,” Mr. Obama told local residents gathered outside a home. He said the federal government’s Small Business Administration is “three times more likely to provide loans to women-owned businesses than regular banks have been.”

It’s clear why Mr. Obama held the event, which coincided with the release of a White House report on how its policies have strengthened opportunities for women. Recent polls have shown that female voters, a core constituency that helped sweep Mr. Obama and his Democratic allies to office, are far less enthusiastic this time around.

An Associated Press-GfK survey this week found that while female voters still prefer Democrats, the margin of support has eroded: 49 percent of female voters favor Democrats compared with 45 percent who favor Republicans. In the midterm elections in 2006, when Democrats captured both houses of Congress, 55 percent of female voters backed Democrats, compared with 43 percent for Republicans.

The president also has made efforts to boost turnout among black and Hispanic voters, both of whom voted for him in overwhelming numbers in 2008 but have been far less enthusiastic this year. Earlier this week, he held a conference call with black journalists and met with Hispanic reporters at the White House.

Hispanic voters in particular don’t appear to be motivated. A recent Pew Hispanic Center survey showed just half of the key Democratic constituency are certain they will vote in November, compared with 70 percent of all registered voters. Hispanics still prefer Democrats over Republicans, however, by a margin of 65 percent to 22 percent.

The president also has made a strong push to appeal to young voters, another core Democratic bloc that was instrumental in his presidential victory. He has held a conference call for college reporters, rallies at universities and even a televised town-hall meeting on MTV.

Mr. Obama also is making use of less traditional outlets, appearing on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show With Jon Stewart” next week.



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