Maine Women Voters and the Power of the Purse
The Maine Women's Lobby held a press conference at Bangor City Hall today to launch their She Decides campaign, an attempt to energize a powerful demographic in the state electorate: Maine's women.
The campaign, which has a website at SheDecides.org, is focusing on a "pocketbook agenda" of economic issues that affect women in Maine, including the minimum wage, paid sick days, equal pay, family leave insurance, and career-focused education and training.
“The fact is, the power is in the purse," said Laura Harper, Director of Public Policy for the Maine Women’s Lobby in a release. "[The agenda is] a road map for candidates who want to speak to the powerful constituency of women voters.”
In 2008, exit polls show women made up 54% of Maine voters. They supported Obama over McCain by a 30-point margin (compared to just a 6-point margin among men).
I should mention that the event was held today to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. It's also worth noting that the history of the struggle for universal suffrage in Maine has many parallels to the current civil rights debate over equal marriage.
Like same-sex marriage supporters today, Maine suffragists in the early years of the last century suffered a long series of setbacks. They lost votes several times in the legislature and once at referendum. When they finally managed to pass a bill giving women the vote, their opponents gathered signatures and challenged it in a people's veto referendum, only the seventh since the founding of the state.
Check out the Maine Memory Network for a brief history of the effort and examples of contemporary political materials.