The New York Times and the Washington Post this weekend reliably rolled out articles arguing that being socially conservative is a huge turnoff for female voters -- and thus imply that Christianity and traditional values are conspiracies to repress women, or something like that.
One of the main "data points" in this campaign has been the claim that Rick Santorum -- the pro-life, pro-big family Catholic who personally opposes contraception uses -- is unpopular among woman voters. Many media outlets, like the New York Times, have even tried to claim this is true among GOP primary voters, in complete contradiction of the facts -- Santorum does better among women than among men, according to exit polls.
Pollster Evolving Strategies conducted a sophisticated poll they call a "message experiment," and found "Santorum does not do worse with women than he does with men" and that "Santorum doesn’t appear to be seriously harmed by social issues, however there is evidence that he is harmed by a lack of focus on economic issues."
Here's the heart of it:
When we look to the data, we see that being socially conservative or liberal has a significant impact on a respondent’s vote, but men and women are fairly similar, with women a bit less conservative overall.
Furthermore, there is no significant interaction between being socially conservative or liberal and the Santorum treatment. In other words, there does not seem to be a significant backlash against Santorum in response to his social policy views.
Evolving Strategies did this poll in conjunction with our sister publication, the Weekly Standard, which reported on some aspects here.
UPDATE: John McCormack at the Weekly Standard just blogged about the Washington Post's stories [women are fleeing Republicans because of social issues] clashing with the Washington Post's polls [finding nothing of the sort]. About polls undermining the conservatism-vs-women dogma, McCormack concludes aptly: "But this fact doesn't fit with the Washington Post's narrative, so it apparently isn't fit to print."