According to pundits, the Democratic Party overplayed the “war on women” narrative in the 2014 midterm election, and this helped the GOP win key Senate and gubernatorial races, including in states carried easily by Obama in 2012. In that election, the birth control mandate in the Affordable Care Act — a crucial aspect of the war on women rhetoric — was hotly debated.
It wasn’t clear even in 2012 that this rhetoric worked. On the one hand, we found that supporters of the birth control mandate were more likely to vote for Obama, even after accounting for other factors.
On the other hand, John Sides and Lynn Vavreck found no link between news coverage about contraception and abortion and women’s attitudes about either Obama or Mitt Romney during the 2012 campaign, and little evidence that attitudes about abortion were central to moving women voters to Obama.