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Nev. women doom Romney; GOP strategy reconsidered

Associated Press Modified: November 7, 2012 at 10:00 pm •  Published: November 7, 2012
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The divide is most glaring among women younger than 30 who supported Obama by a 2-to-1 margin over Romney.

The continuing pattern has some Republicans wondering whether they can consistently win statewide races in Nevada without drastic changes — especially on abortion.

"You simply can't" win without a shift, said Jim Denton, a longtime Republican consultant in Las Vegas.

"You haven't been able to for the last 20 years," he said Wednesday in a telephone interview, noting the strength of abortion rights advocates in the state.

One exception is Republican U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, also an abortion opponent. Heller, however, was able to close the gap among women, perhaps securing his narrow victory over Democratic challenger Rep. Shelley Berkley.

While Berkley carried the female vote, the margin was slim and only about one-third as much of the edge that Obama enjoyed.

Political insiders all but predicted Romney's struggles.

On a hot August day in 2011, Barbara Vucanovich, the 91-year-old former congresswoman and matriarch of Nevada's Republican Party, was introducing some of her family to Ann Romney outside the Washoe County Republican Party headquarters.

Elisa Cafferata, the granddaughter of the first Nevada woman elected to Congress in 1982 and former executive director of the county party, extended her hand to Ann Romney in support and began with an aside in the interest of full disclosure.

"I'm a Republican, but I work for Planned Parenthood," she said with a smile in regard to the pro-abortion rights organization that Mitt Romney advocated abolishing. "So I hope we'll take that off the table and talk jobs."

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The survey of 4,141 voters was conducted for AP and the television networks by Edison Research. This includes preliminary results from interviews conducted as voters left a random sample of 47 precincts statewide Tuesday, as well as 1,104 who voted early or absentee and were interviewed by landline or cellular telephone from Oct. 29 through Nov. 4. Results for the full sample were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points; it is higher for subgroups.