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Republicans can no longer deny that their party has a major problem with women. A new report, conducted by conservative groups Crossroads GPS and American Action Network, found that women are “barely receptive” to GOP policy, and view Republicans as “intolerant,” “lacking in compassion,” and “stuck in the past.”

The report, titled “Republicans and Women Voters: Huge Challenges, Real Opportunities,” was presented earlier this month to senior aides in Washington and obtained by Politico. The results are based on eight focus groups across the country and a poll of 800 female voters. Politico describes it as “the most detailed illustration of the problem” so far.

“The gender gap is hardly a new phenomenon, but nevertheless, it’s important for conservatives to identify what policies best engage women, and our project found multiple opportunities,” American Action Network spokesman Dan Conston told Politico. “It’s no surprise that conservatives have more work to do with women.”

The study found that 49 percent of women see Republicans unfavorably, while only 39 percent view Democrats unfavorably. Republicans do “especially poorly” with women in the Northeast and Midwest, and “fail to speak to women in the different circumstances in which they live” (for example, many don’t understand that not all female voters are stay-at-home moms).

It also found that Democrats have an advantage when voters are asked which party “wants to make health care affordable,” “looks out for the interests of women,” and “is tolerant of other people’s lifestyles.” Women who care about the economy, health care, education, and jobs vote “overwhelmingly” for Democrats. Politico points out that even though Republicans say that jobs and the economy are their top priorities, Democrats have a 35-point advantage with women who care about jobs.

Republicans only have a 3-point advantage over Democrats when it comes to which party has “good ideas to grow the economy and create jobs,” and is “fiscally responsible and can be trusted with tax dollars.”

The only area where Republicans did overwhelmingly better than Democrats was among married women, who prefer the GOP 48 to 38 percent.

The report suggests that the GOP develop policies that are not “driven by a desire to aid employers or ‘the rich.’” Two policies that former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor pitched as ways to attract female voters — increasing access to charter schools and supporting more flexible work schedules — polled as the least popular policies. But the survey found that women think an equal pay policy would “help [them] the most.” So it’s clear that Republicans will continue to pay a political price by doing things like unanimously rejecting an equal pay bill.

The report suggests that the GOP “neutralize” the attack that Republicans don’t support fairness for women, and criticize Democrats for “growing government programs that encourage dependency rather than opportunities to get ahead.” It also tells the GOP that it needs to “deal honestly with any disagreement on abortion, then move to other issues.” Finally, it suggests that lawmakers do the “unexpected” and promote job-training programs, speak out against “gender bias in the workplace,” and actually support “expanding home health care services” through Medicare.

It remains to be seen whether lawmakers will actually follow the report’s advice. Though Republicans are likely to do well in the midterm elections, their lack of female support will drastically hurt them in the 2016 elections, especially if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee.

AFP Photo/Michael Mathes

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