ATLANTA (AP) — Democrat Michelle Nunn happily notes that she'd be Georgia's first elected female senator.
"I meet women all the time who are aware that we have a chance to make history," Nunn told The Associated Press before a recent campaign stop.
Another Democratic Senate hopeful, Kentucky's Alison Lundergan Grimes, accuses Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, the GOP's Senate floor leader, of a shoddy record on issues important to women. "As the third of five daughters, I grew up around a lot of women voices and women matter," Grimes told the AP.
In the race for an open Senate seat in Michigan, it's the Republican, Terri Lynn Land, highlighting her gender as she battles Democratic Rep. Gary Peters. In a recent television ad, Land declares: "Congressman Gary Peters and his buddies want you to believe I'm waging a war on women. ... Think about that for a moment." She adds sarcastically, "I approved this message because, as a woman, I might know a little more about women than Gary Peters."
It's all part of a 2014 midterm scramble, as the two parties try to secure support from the moderate female voters who could decide a series of competitive races — several of them featuring female candidates — that, in turn, will determine which party controls the Senate for the final two years of President Barack Obama's administration.
With Republicans needing a net gain of six seats for a majority, Democrats want to replicate the kind of advantage among female voters — the "gender gap"— they usually post in presidential election years. Democrats are angling again for advantages on issues they believe will matter: pocketbook policy on minimum wage and pay equity, education, health care and insurance coverage for contraception.
"There's no secret that over the last couple of cycles, women have been a disproportionate part of the targeted persuadable voters," said Democratic pollster John Anzalone, a top campaign adviser to Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina.