For the last twenty years, a majority of women voters went for the Democratic presidential nominee, according to the Pew Research Center.
Now, the National Federation of Republican Women (NFRW) is trying to reverse that trend, one pit stop at a time.
NFRW president Carrie Almond, along with political director Terri Hauser, saddled up a 38-foot tour bus nicknamed “Rosie” and have been crisscrossing the country, including a half a dozen stops in Pennsylvania (a swing-state). Their two small dogs, Reagan (for the former president) and Ecco (short for “prosecco”) are also on board.
Monday’s stop at Springfield Mall, in Delaware County, was mostly a photo-op, drawing about 10 people to get their pictures taken and sign one of Rosie’s metal flanks. This is the group’s second trip through the Commonwealth, with stops in Lackawanna, Monroe and Montgomery Counties on Sunday.
So far, Almond and Hauser have visited 25 states and plan to hone in on 11, including Pennsylvania, where the race is close in the run up to the general election.
The federation, which has been around since 1938, describes itself as a grassroots organization with local affiliates at the state and county level, focused supporting Republican candidates and in particular Republican women’s involvement in politics.
Local groups make up their own bylaws and set their own agendas, but this election year Almond said she felt the organization needed to unite the party after a contentious presidential primary.
“With 17 [primary] candidates, our organization needed to be unified behind whoever was going to prevail,” she said. Before the GOP chose its nominee, the group put out a “unity resolution,” pledging to support whoever became the nominee.
The idea behind the bus tour is two-fold, she said: “speaking about our unity resolution, that we are unified behind our nominee, Donald Trump, and really focus our volunteer hours on registering people to vote.”
She and Hauser have been distributing voter registration forms in states where they are allowed to, and encouraging local parties to do their own get-out-the-vote efforts where her organization can’t.
In Pennsylvania, the state chapter of the Federation of Republican Women is reaching out to more than 22,000 women and men who haven’t renewed as registered Republicans.
Mary Barket, president of the PA Federation of Republican Women, said their affiliates on the ground will use that information to try to make contact with these likely Republican voters so they don’t have any trouble on Election Day.
“In Pennsylvania, we want our voices heard,” she said. “Hillary Clinton and Katie McGinty (Democratic Senate candidate) do not represent us as women, and there are many women who feel the same way but they need to feel empowered a little bit.”
She said their effort is not coordinated with the state GOP committee or Trump’s campaign.
While the overall presidential race is competitive, recent polls show HIllary Clinton beating Donald Trump among women voters by 20 or 30 percentage points.