GOP Targets Women in a Big Way -- Through Blogs
Hey, girl. The GOP wants you... to have worker comp time.
House Republicans, led by Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL), recently spent $20,000 to purchase banner ads on more than 100 websites aimed at women, specifically working moms -- including blogs in the BlogHer network, MarthaStewart.com and Ikeafans.com.
The ads are geo-targeted, displaying to residents of 20 Democratic-held congressional districts on the GOP 2014 radar screen.
The ads call on women to put pressure on Democratic representatives to vote with House Republicans next week on the Working Families Flexibility Act. The bill, sponsored by Roby and more than 160 co-sponsors, would give hourly private sector workers more flexibility to choose between compensatory time and cash payment for overtime work.
At the core of the House Republicans' act (H.R. 1406): the law allows a public-sector employee to accrue comp time to be used at the employee’s discretion with approval from the employer. It's only fair to allow private employees the same flexibility, especially when so many families are struggling.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor recently spoke in favor of the bill as an example of a common-sense approach to America's jobs crisis.
Republicans argue the legislation could offer an alternative to working American families -- in this case, giving workers the ability to choose between extra pay or extra time off.
So what pushed the GOP into this newfound intrigue with powerful online influencers? Surely it’s more than driving just one piece of legislation through a sea of bills. Conservative blogger Dana Loesch thinks this major push into the world of women in social media is an interesting turn of events:
"If Republicans can broaden this push and show the attractiveness of limited government, Democrats are in for some pain... Women are a motivated demographic, mothers especially. By approaching policy as product, which it is, the GOP have finally done something right in marketing."
The communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee, Andrea Bozek, told me via email that the strategy hopes to make the choice between Republicans and Democrats clear to women, as they wage the never-ending American battle to put food on the table:
"For women who are balancing working outside the home with taking care of their children and families, this is an important issue that has an impact on their daily lives. This digital campaign allows us to highlight how House Democrats are forcing women to choose between work and family on forums they use every day."
But if we learned anything in 2012, it's that women-centric answers can't come from a binder. Dislodging the traditionally Democratic voters demands a genuine message from people who know. Cue working Republican women, many of them young mothers, taking up the fight against the Democrats. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, House Republican Conference Chair, responded to my request for reaction, saying the Working Families Flexibility Act gives working moms another tool to strike a better work-life balance.
"Like so many other working moms all across this country, I understand how important it is to balance the demands of a job with the responsibilities of a family," her statement read. "Families need greater flexibility - so they can advance their careers and attend their kids' tee-ball games, piano recitals and school plays at the same time. It's time to bring greater flexibility to working families all across America, and this bill will do just that."
This campaign uses authentic messengers to tell a genuine story to the people who care. Plus, the vehicle of the message delivery -– websites aimed at women -- pushes the GOP into a new arena. Or at least, new for it. Mom blogs are hardly a new tool in politics. The Obama campaign reached out to women in 2008 and 2012, even offering "Obama Mama" blog badges and a online forum for parents who support the president. Can Republicans bridge the technological divide between the party's message and the voters? And if they get the message out, will it resonate with the audience?
This ad buy campaign shows the flicker of a new digital era. And by zeroing in on websites with a high female audience, even ones that specialize in home and hearth, they are aiming to show traditionally Democratic women how Republican policies could help them most –- in the bread and butter issues of raising a family.
Let's hope more such smart moves follow.
- Erica Holloway is a BlogHer contributing editor. Follow her @erica_holloway.