With 83 million moms in the U.S., 32.1 million are online and highly social. Women have voted in larger numbers than men since 1980, and 80% of women in the U.S. are mothers.
So Dot Moms, Mama Grizzlies, Wal-mart Moms, Facebook Moms, Networked Moms, Birth Control Moms … no matter what title you give us, moms have the potential to be the deciding factor when it comes to this year’s election. And how the candidates answer the issues is going to drive who moms will support.
So I spoke to Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director of MomsRising.org, about this year’s issues. MomsRising has over one million moms and reaches three million readers and I figured she must have a pretty good idea about what moms are thinking. She said, “One of the recent trends is that the news media is identifying political power in 'birth control' moms for this upcoming election season. Ninety-nine percent of women have used some form of birth control and they are using this as a litmus test for making their decisions this election year.”
Ninety-nine percent of women use birth control at some point in their lives. The economic security and health of mothers and families across the nation are dependent on a mother’s ability to control how many children to have, and when to have them. Giving prospective parents control over planning their families allows them to give their children the best futures possible. Providing the basics for one child requires a lot of money -- $227,000 for each child, according to a BabyCenter report and that doesn’t include college. A year of childcare costs more than a year of college in many states.
What are the other issues moms care about?
• The U.S. is one of three countries that has no mandatory paid leave. One hundred seventy-seven other countries are ahead of us.
• The extreme cost of child rearing. One quarter of women with children under the age of 6 are living in poverty in the United States.
• Childcare costs are often more than 4 years of college, which puts tremendous strain on today’s families. In 36 states, the average annual cost for center-based care for an infant was higher than a year’s tuition and related fees at a four-year public college.
• Lack of access to earned sick leave.
Moms are paying attention, but they are very busy. Parenthood adds eight hours to the average day. Today’s women make up half of the work force and are often the primary breadwinners, so between work and raising children, she is very busy. So while social media is important, “a super-charged communication tool,” according to Kristin, it still requires strategy and dialogue. And with over 5,000 media or marketing hits received by each person each day, including election banter, there is lots of static, making it even harder to get the busy mom engaged.
"Moms wish the candidates would stop wasting time denying women and mothers coverage for contraceptive health care and focus instead on making life better for the mothers who are struggling now to support their families in the face of our failure to adopt family-friendly workplace policies which most other countries take as a given," said Kristin.
The collective voice of mom is incredibly powerful and, together, moms will shape the issues and the choosing of the final candidates. The votes of moms have the potential to be extremely important, as many elections today, particularly local elections, are being won or lost by narrow margins.
So no matter what moniker you want to give them, candidates better be listening to moms. Moms have it in their hands with their connections and social networks to affect the outcome.