Blanche Lincoln saved abstinence only education in America. It was 2009 and the health care reform debate was raging. Oh how she was despised! For it was the scourge of a many a kossack to see one of our own save such a failure of a program. It was depressing to see another billion dollars of failed policies maintained, all the while we were being called out for not cutting enough ourselves. And while the GOP gloated at keeping it in place a silver lining appeared in the near future: for they failed to realize how their own policies would bring about their demise.
In 1996 The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act was passed. As a cornerstone of of the GOP’s contract with America, it redefined the safety net system that been created during by Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930’s. As a law its effects were pronounced and long lasting, effectively cutting funding for many of the social programs throughout the nation, and allowing the efficiency and provisions for such systems to vary on a state by state basis. It was varied to such an extreme that in some states these safety nets disappeared altogether. Hidden beneath the billions of dollars in cuts was a amendment to the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant of the Social Security Act. The amendment mandated $50 million dollars a year to fund abstinence only education programs.
Such programs went into effect in America and soon became the law of the land in many states. In 2001 the Ohio legislature approved a modification to the existing sex education law that required abstinence-only be taught in every school. As a result teen pregnancies skyrocketed, as did abortion rates. Still it is estimated that between 80,000 and 90,000 teenagers gave birth in the state from 1996-2006 and another 30,000 had abortions for a total of 120,000 teen pregnancies combined. There is little doubt about how the vast majority would of these women would feel about women's rights, abortion, and contraceptives. And while they were a group that favored Obama in 2008, their support was not unanimous.
Yet in 2011; while the blood was still fresh from their victory, Republicans in both national and statewide seats made a major misstep, beginning an all out attack on several organizations promoting birth control. The so dubbed War on Women reached nearly every state with bills to defund Planned Parenthood and prevent abortions being introduced in the Ohio senate. At a national level bills attempting to redefine rape and prevent insurance coverage of contraceptives were introduced. Going into 2012 events kept bringing this battle into the forefront from the Susan G. Komen Foundation removing grants from Planned Parenthood to controversial statements from Todd Akin and Richard Murdock among many others.
When all was said and done Obama won in Ohio by 2,697,308 votes to 2,593,789; a difference of 103,519 votes separated him from Mitt Romney. This victory came from many groups but the most significant one was single women, with nearly 70% of them favoring Barack and making up 23% of the electorate.
While we can not figure out the exact voter turnout rate for single mothers from Ohio. It has been estimated that between 4.1 and 4.9 million of them voted Tuesday for Obama, who won the popular vote with just under 3 million votes.
Looking at the data and the events that have influenced development of the American society over the past 20 years one seem becomes increasingly clear. Single mothers probably won Obama the election in Ohio (and undoubtedly the nation), and and it is the policies of the GOP that caused most of them to vote for Obama in the first place.