WASHINGTON, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Republican U.S. presidential hopeful Rick Santorum's weak appeal among women won't hurt him now, but would in a general election contest, an analysis says.
While he has rallied evangelicals behind his bid to be the GOP presidential candidate, Santorum hasn't done so well among women, a problem that could haunt him should he win the nomination, The Hill reported Wednesday.
Santorum has made the Obama administration's mandate that Catholic-affiliated organizations such as hospitals and schools should provide contraception coverage in their healthcare plans an issue that has helped him consolidate conservative support.
But the general election is an arena less dominated by conservatives and evangelicals, The Hill said, citing a recent Fox News poll that indicated Republicans disapprove of the administration's position on contraceptives by 18 percent but independents favor it by 24 percent.
The same poll indicated 67 percent of women thought employers should be required to offer birth control coverage, while 29 percent of women said they held the opposite view.
But birth control insurance coverage isn't the only social issue that could dog the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania in a general election. Abortion is another hot-button issue for women and independents. A 2011 Pew study indicated 58 percent of independents said they thought abortion should be legal in all or most cases; Santorum is against abortion in any instance, including rape, The Hill said.
Santorum also raised eyebrows for his views on women in the workplace in his book, "It Takes a Family." Santorum wrote that "radical feminists" succeeded in challenging the traditional family by convincing women "that professional accomplishments are the key to happiness," the article said.
He later explained he thought women should be "affirmed for the choices they make."