SUSAN MANION wasn't sure how she would vote in Tuesday's presidential election until she watched the second debate.
"Mitt Romney's recent 'binders full of women' remark I found to be very insulting," the Bordentown City, N.J., resident said, referring to the Republican candidate's comments about appointing women while he served as governor of Massachusetts.
"That remark totally turned me off him . . . I feel like Obama is more pro-choice. He supports career women."
Manion, who is in her 50s, is a registered Republican who voted for President Obama on Tuesday and in 2008. When she cast her ballot in the Carslake Community Center, just off Route 130, she joined a motivated block of women across the country who turned out in large numbers to help deliver Obama a second term.
CNN exit polls showed women voting in greater numbers than men and heavily favoring Obama - in contrast with men, who preferred Romney. The gender gap, which broke for Obama in 2008 as well, suggested early on that Obama needed a strong showing from women voters to emerge victorious.
Political scientist G. Terry Madonna, head of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College, said women in Pennsylvania helped get Obama to victory in the state. Still, he noted they did not support him with the same margins as they did in 2008.
"There's still a gap between men and women, and that gap matters," Madonna said. "The point here is that the president's victory in Pennsylvania is lower, but the coalition is the same."
Both candidates aggressively wooed women this year. Republicans argued that their proposed economic fixes will help women, and Democrats raised concerns about access to abortion rights in a Romney administration.
Women's issues have been highlighted in the race in part due to the controversial statements made by some right-wing Republican candidates, like Missouri U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, who said that women's bodies could avoid pregnancy in a case of "legitimate rape."
Akin lost Tuesday night to Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in a Republican-leaning state.
Concerns over social policies and women's health are key reasons women traditionally lean Democrat. In interviews with women voters around Philadelphia, most said they were voting Democrat, and many cited concerns about access to abortion rights under a President Romney.
"I have two young girls, and I really am against what Romney stands for. I'm pro-choice, so I really believe [my daughters] should do what they choose to do with their bodies," said Shaina Wilcox, 31, of Bustleton, who voted at Baldi Middle School at Verree Road and Alburger Avenue. She voted for Obama in 2008 as well.
Those who favored Romney largely cited economic concerns.
"We want to see people working. What women want first is a job, which is true in my opinion," said Helen Bokobza, 33, who voted for Romney at Rhawnhurst School at Castor Avenue and Borbeck Street. The Rhawnhurst resident supported Sen. John McCain in 2008.
- Daily News reporters Dana DiFilippo, Morgan Zalot and William Bender contributed to this report.