Women are going to decide this election.
Whether it's the oft-mentioned "white women without college degrees" or the never-mentioned "women who feel like neither party gives a flying shit about their needs," women are going to be the ones who make the call.
Most of these women, even if they have traditionally voted Republican, support reproductive freedom. They might support abortion with caveats, or support contraception but not emergency contraception, but most of them want women to have access to some contraceptive method(s) and access to safe, legal abortion.
One of the gravest mistakes the modern Democratic Party makes is assuming that pro-choice women (even marginally pro-choice women) regard the Democrats' national candidates as reliable allies on reproductive rights.
The reality is that, with Democrats in many state governments staking out anti-choice positions, or merely failing to even try to robustly defend reproductive rights from Republican legislatures, and with a Democratic President who has failed to call out anti-choice terrorism, failed to give reproductive rights a single whole sentence in his nomination acceptance speech, failed to give an address centering reproductive rights during his first term even as record numbers of anti-choice legislation were being passed in state legislatures, failed to give even a passing mention to reproductive rights in his "Women's Equality Day" proclamation, failed to give even a passing mention to reproductive rights in his "Women's History Month" proclamation, failed to acknowledge the war on agency in his State of the Union address, failed to prioritize science over religion, failed to prioritize healthcare over religion, and failed to be generally clueful on the issue of reproductive rights, lots of women across this country feel as though they have been completely abandoned by both parties on the issue of their reproductive health.
The Democrats have calculated that if they simply don't mention abortion, they won't alienate anti-choice voters (who, argh, will never vote for them, anyway), but instead they have communicated to women across this country that the issue is off the table.
A foolish, terrible calculation.
The Democrats' silence on reproductive rights does not treat it like the marked party distinction it is; it treats it like an issue they don't even think is worth talking about.
As a result, the best way for President Obama to secure his reelection is to have NASA build him a time machine so he can go back and make reproductive rights a central part of his first term and his reelection campaign.
But, failing that, here's how he wins the election:
1. This Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden will be debating Rep. Paul Ryan, who is profoundly anti-choice and wants to redefine rape. Here's a Fun Fact about Joe Biden: HE DRAFTED THE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT AND HAS BEEN ITS MOST FERVENT CHAMPION! Meanwhile, Romney/Ryan's party has held up the reauthorization of the VAWA for nearly a year because they prioritize homophobia, transphobia, and hatred of undocumented workers over protecting people from stalking, sexual violence, and/or domestic violence. JOE BIDEN NEEDS TO SAY THIS 100 TIMES DURING THAT DEBATE.
2. During the next presidential debate, which is a garbage town hall format on both foreign and domestic policy, President Obama needs to talk about reproductive rights EVERY CHANCE HE GETS. Sure, mention the Lilly Ledbetter Act and USE FEMALE PRONOUNS when talking about the hypothetical worker who needs a job with a livable wage to put food on her family, but TALK ABOUT THE WAR ON AGENCY. The President needs to say, point blank, that women are 52% of the population, and say he trusts them to make their own decisions about their own bodies, and say MITT ROMNEY DOESN'T AGREE. Say: MITT ROMNEY SAYS HE WANTS THE GOVERNMENT OUT OF OUR LIVES, BUT WANTS TO INSERT THE GOVERNMENT IN WOMEN'S PERSONAL HEALTHCARE DECISIONS. Saaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyy thaaaaaaaaaaaaat, pleeeeeeeeeeese!
3. During the final debate, on foreign policy, work in a way to quote Secretary of State Hillary Clinton—"human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights"—and then promise to push for ratification of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which has languished in the US Senate since its adoption in 1979.
What I'm saying is: TALK TO WOMEN. Directly and meaningfully. Mean it.