WASHINGTON — Both major presidential candidates, President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney, are fighting hard in the final days of the campaign for a crucial group of voters - women. Most recent public opinion polls indicate that Obama still has a lead of six to eight percentage points among women voters, while Romney enjoys a similar lead among men. A closer look at the gender gap sheds some light on how some young women feel about the two campaigns vying to win their votes.
Campaigning in Iowa, Obama highlighted the Equal Pay Act - the first bill he signed into law.
"When young women graduate, they should get equal pay for equal work," said the president. "That should be a simple question to answer. When Governor Romney was asked about it, his campaign said, 'We'll get back to you.'"
Romney focuses on the economy, saying American women are suffering.
"Why is it that there are 3.6 million more women in poverty today than when the president took office? This president has failed America's women," said Romney.
And Romney rejects Democratic attacks that his party wants to restrict access to birth control.
"Turns out, Romney does not oppose contraception at all. In fact, he thinks abortion should be an option in cases of rape, incest or to save a mother's life," says one woman in a Romney political ad.
But some political analysts say that Romney and other Republican candidates advocate restricting access to abortion and contraception.
"From support of policies that would take away women's access to contraception, to women's reproductive health care, to defunding Planned Parenthood, to limit a woman's right to choose, to redefining rape, the Republican candidates this cycle have demonstrated a willingness to chip away at women's rights," said Jennifer Lawless, a professor at American University.
American University student Elyse Preston said she plans to vote for Obama.
"In general, that Barack Obama and Democratic candidates seem to grasp and have a better understanding of the fact that women need to be recognized as independent and capable of making their own decisions about their own bodies and recognized as full functioning members of society," said Preston.
Fellow student Rebecca Rutekovsky said the economy is her top issue and she is voting for Romney.
"I am looking for a little more of economic security, because I am worried about when I get out of college whether I am going to have a job or not," said Rutekovsky.
Lawless said women traditionally tend to favor Democratic candidates.
"What Mitt Romney needs to do is close that gap to the best of his ability, or do whatever he can to demobilize female voters," she said.
Women made up 53 percent of the electorate in 2008, so how many of them turn out to vote could determine who wins on November 6.