Are Women Voters Looking For Leaders, Or Boyfriend Material?

Photo courtesy of David Arpi

Photo courtesy of David Arpi

Back in 2012, the Obama campaign released a commercial featuring Lena Dunham, star of the HBO series, “Girls”. Titled, “Your First Time”, it was more provocative than your average campaign ad, with plenty of metaphors for a young woman losing her virginity. A few comments from the commercial: “Your first time shouldn’t be with just anybody. You want to do it with a great guy… My first time voting was amazing. It was this line in the sand. Before I was a girl. Now I was a woman.” Clearly the goal was to draw out young women who hadn’t shown an interest in voting before by making it sexy to vote for Obama. Ultimately, Obama won the Presidency in 2012, and media sources everywhere were quick to point out the gender gap between Obama and Romney voters, noting that women voters propelled Barack to victory.

Dunham’s ‘First Time’ Ad

That was two years ago, so why does it matter now? Because the media continues to believe that “as go women, so goes America” in terms of elections. With the 2014 election cycle upon us, there have been plenty of features discussing the attitudes of women voters. In their piece, “Obama’s Standing with Women Hurts Senate Dems”  Politico notes, “the President’s diminished standing with women is quickly becoming one of the biggest liabilities facing Democrats as they struggle to hang onto the Senate majority.”

Conservative PACs have jumped on this perceived advantage, creating women-centered commercials of their own. One ad in particular garnered a lot of attention this fall. The commercial, called “Dating Profile”, portrays a woman who was burned in a relationship. She trusted the man, but he let her down, and she feels betrayed. No, not by a boyfriend. By Barack Obama. She laments that she is “stuck with him” until 2016, but she doesn’t have to be stuck with his friends, basically encouraging women to vote out Democrats in the coming election.

‘Dating Profile’ Ad

To be fair, women aren’t the only ones who use relationship terminology when discussing politics; last year, actor Matt Damon criticized the President in an interview, using the phrase, “Obama broke up with me” to describe his position. Still one has to wonder, is painting our political leaders as paramours a savvy media tactic, or is it demeaning? It depends on whom you ask. Where some saw genius in Dunham’s ad, others found it crass and unbecoming to compare voting for President to having sex. Similarly, there were those who found the conservative ad to be offensive, because the woman basically compares her time as an Obama supporter with being in a bad relationship.

What do you think? Is it smart marketing, or cheap pandering? What kind of ads would make you consider voting for a candidate?