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in the USA, a woman with children who is particularly concerned about terrorism and security issues
'A lot of the Bush campaign rhetoric, from "W is for women" down to safety-related television ads, has been geared to winning the security moms over …'The Guardian 12th October 2004
'I am what this year's election pollsters call a "security mom". I'm married with two young children. I own a gun. And I vote. … Nothing matters more to me right now than the safety of my home and the survival of my homeland.'USA Today 20th July 2004
Voters are often characterised in a generalised way during an election campaign. As a result, new demographic labels emerge which are designed to refer to particular sections of the electorate. The American presidential elections have a strong tradition of throwing up this kind of sociopolitical terminology, and 2004 is no exception, with the sudden explosion of interest in the security mom, the American mother with a strong concern for national security.
the security mom is the latest in a series of swing groups identified during recent presidential election campaigns
During past weeks, Republican strategists have been working very hard to gather support for President Bush, by convincing American mothers that they are under threat of imminent terrorist attack, a situation which could only worsen if John Kerry were to enter the White House.
Security moms constitute what, since the 1960s, political analysts have been referring to as a swing group, a proportion of the electorate which could 'swing' the election results in a particular direction. Recent evidence indicates, however, that security moms will not necessarily influence the election in favour of President Bush, the results of a recent poll suggesting that married women with children are no more concerned about security issues than any other average voter.
The security mom is the latest in a series of swing groups identified during recent presidential election campaigns. Its origins lie in the term soccer mom, an expression which emerged during the 1996 campaign to refer to a white suburban woman who is married with children (from the suburban ideal of a mother who regularly supports her children at soccer matches). In the mid-term elections of 1998, the soccer mom gave way to the waitress mom, a married woman with children, working in a low-paid job. In the 2000 presidential election, there was a more general focus on the WMWM, an abbreviation for White Married Working Mom. However, with the terrorist attacks of September 11th in the following year, the WMWM soon became the white married mother who was disproportionately worried about the threat of terrorism, subsequently known as the security mom.
All these sociopolitical terms belong to the field of psephology, the study of election trends – from the Greek psephos meaning 'pebble', relating to the ancient Greek practice of using pebbles to vote. During the current presidential campaign, psephologists have also been debating the female electorate in terms of what has been referred to as the marriage gap versus the gender gap, speculating that women's marital status is a better predictor of their voting intentions than their gender.
This article was first published on 25th October 2004.