The Republican Party found a way to win over women in the midterm elections, despite Mitt Romney's loss in 2012, and an all-female consulting firm appears to have been at the center of the strategy, The Daily Beast reported
A firm set-up by former top Romney aides Katie Packer Gage and Ashley O'Connor worked closely with Republican campaigns to develop a message that would neutralize and in some cases prevail over Democrats' "war on women"
narrative that hurt the GOP in 2010 and 2012.
"Republicans weren't doing a very effective job of communicating the Republican message to women," Gage told the Daily Beast. "We asked how we could go about doing that better, and ultimately that's how Burning Glass [consulting firm] came together."
Gage and O'Connor worked with GOP pollster Christine Matthews, advised the GOP to recruit better candidates, muffle GOP politicians that could offend female voters, and prepare campaigns for how to respond to Democrats' tactics with their "War on Women" campaign.
"One of the first things that we felt was important was avoiding another Todd Akin or Richard Murdock moment, which was so difficult to deal with in 2012," Gage told the Daily Beast. "The whole candidate-recruitment process, making sure that one candidate was not going to put our whole party in a negative light, was something we felt strongly about."
The firm also developed better polling data about women's views and investigated why Democrats were successful in convincing women that the GOP was bad for women, the Daily Beast reported.
"Coming into 2014, we really wanted to have some good research and data to be able to talk about how to handle this, because we knew it was coming," O'Connor told the Daily Beast.
"For us, it was really important to make sure that candidates were ready for this and that they knew how to handle it. We learned that you can't just dismiss it. You have to be ready to talk about those issues as well as other issues."
Throughout 2013 and 2014, the firm worked with Republicans to train them on messaging, give them debate prep, and advised independent outside groups on tone and messaging in ads that would better speak to women voters.
In the firm's long list of clients for 2014, each campaign was successful in outperforming the result Mitt Romney received among women in 2012, and every candidate but Virginia's Ed Gillespie won their races.
Overall, while Republicans lost the female vote by 4 points, it was a vast improvement on the 11-point loss from 2012.
At the same time, the firm has cautioned that 2016 will have its own unique challenges given that Hillary Clinton will likely be at the top of the Democratic ticket.
"The fact that we're going to have a woman running for president on the other side and that it's a presidential year, all of these are going to make 2016 more challenging than it was in 2014," Gage told the Daily Beast. "So we hope that people in our party will continue to pay attention to this."
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