The bad news for Democrats keeps pouring in. Now it comes from Wal-Mart moms -- women with children under 18 who shop at Wal-Mart. They tend to be Democrats and more of them than not voted for President Obama in 2008. But they’re leaning Republican this year. And despite the happy economic talk from the White House, they believe the economy is hurting their families and their situation will be just as bad a year from now.
In Washington today, Wal-Mart officials unveiled a national survey of their female customers, who pollsters said amount to 16 percent of the electorate. “These are voters who are still feeling the economic pinch,” said Leslie Dach, a Wal-Mart vice president. “They’re feeling this intensified squeeze,” and an increasing number of them are “barely able to make ends meet.”
Pollster Neil Newhouse said the moms identified themselves mostly as middle class (38 percent) and lower middle class (55 percent). They are slightly less white and more African-American and Hispanic than the country at large. And they are more moderate (46 percent) than conservative (34 percent), approve of Obama’s job performance (53 percent), and favor more government action to help people (60 percent).
But while they identify more with Democrats (43 percent) than Republicans (39 percent), they’re inclined vote for Republicans (40 percent) over Democrats (37 percent) for Congress in November. And the reason is quite simple: their finances are perilous -- and not improving.
The poll found Wal-Mart moms are forced to take numerous extra steps merely to get by. These include skipping trips to the doctor for themselves and their families and “self-medicating” with vitamins and store-bought medicines, avoiding brand name products, delaying vacations, and doing car repairs themselves. A surprising 42 percent said the bad economy is putting major strains on their marriages or relationships with partners. Two-thirds said they’re dissatisfied with their financial situation.
The moms dislike the recently enacted health care bill. Roughly twice as many said the legislation will make their health care worse (42 percent) than said it will make it better (22 percent). By 52 percent to 38 percent, they disapprove of the bill. They were not asked if they favor repeal.
But it was their deep pessimism (73 percent) about the future that was the most striking finding in the survey, conducted on the Internet in late May. Half of Wal-Mart moms are concerned about falling into a lower economic class. They are anxious about joblessness.
“The pessimism is extraordinary,” Newhouse said. Their view that things won’t be better a year from now is deep-seated. “It is not going to change between now and election day,” he said, which is the worst news of all for Democrats.