April 19, 2012 -- Hilary Rosen made just one comment that sparked a media frenzy, but the half-life of her insult at Mitt Romney's wife might be the length of a campaign season.
Democrats released a poll Wednesday showing that women in districts held by Republicans are moving back toward the Democratic Party by as much as 51 to 41 percent in so-called battleground areas that are expected to have competitive races in November.
The Democracy Corps/Women's Voices Women's Vote Action Fund poll, however, was conducted before Rosen, a Democratic strategist, said Ann Romney had never worked a real job, a comment that dominated the media landscape last week and handed the Romney campaign a golden opportunity to fire back in the "war" over women voters.
Stan Greenberg, a Democratic pollster who released the survey, dismissed the Rosen-Romney feud as little more than a sideshow and predicted that it won't change the way women vote this year.
"It's a nothing story," he said. "I don't think we'll remember that. It was not a turning point."
David Walker, a vice president at a research firm aligned with the poll, said that women in focus groups this week didn't bring up Rosen's comment as they discussed other issues, like contraception and health care.
"It was very striking how the conversation in D.C. was completely disconnected from the conversation in the country," he said.
Just like that, Rosen's big oops is gone?
Not so fast, say Republicans.
A handful of GOP strategists said that not only did Rosen's remarks reach many women -- moms and otherwise -- around the country, but that they're likely to resurface as the presidential election wears on.
Brad Todd, a Republican operative who worked on Romney's 2008 presidential campaign, noted that the focus on motherhood has unleashed a popular Ann Romney on the stump, and he said that the fiery exchange has the potential to have a lasting impact because it hints at a "greater truth" about the way Democrats view women's issues.
"I suspect you'll see more," he said.
"I think those sentiments will be seen throughout the campaign," said Andrea Bozek, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. "Moms who balance their families' checkbooks are concerned about the direction this country is taking."
"The disparaging comment hit a nerve among many stay-at-home moms who understand the tremendous value of their role in the family," said Leslie Sanchez, a GOP analyst. "It has the potential to have a longer-term impact if it's perceived that the Democrats are dismissive and pejorative about moms that choose to work in the home."
President Obama's campaign obviously wants Rosen's words to disappear, and his allies have fought back by noting that he signed a bill into law that helps women get the same pay as men -- legislation that Romney's team fumbled recently by being unable to say if the presumptive Republican nominee would have done the same.
Obama's allies also are quick to point to the so-called Blunt-Rubio legislation, which Romney said he supports, that would let employers deny women health coverage they are opposed to morally.
"I think this was a flap," said Page Gardner, the founder of Women's Voices Women Vote Action Fund, who was involved in the Democrats' poll, of the public debate over Rosen's comments. "It allowed the Romney campaign to have a certain different discussion than they had been having, but it wasn't something that was on the minds of the women that we talked to."
Both sides might be partly right. Linda Juergens, the executive director of the National Association of Mothers' Centers, said Rosen's insult certainly reached beyond the Beltway, prompting moms to tune in.
But Juergens added that the resulting discussion was such a shallow reprisal of the "mommy wars" that it did little to address actual issues that moms face -- like seeking more choices in the home and at work.
"People will eventually say, you know, 'Well, that's Washington baloney, and it's the way they do things, and it really doesn't have to do much with most of our lives,' " she said. "Just because talking is happening doesn't mean that it's intelligent or productive. It could be a catfight. And we have enough of that."
Juergens added: "I think people certainly are talking about it, and the reactions are all over the place. Some people are really getting into a discussion of: What are the choices that we're making, and are they validated by society? Other people are saying, 'This is just more political hype, and I'm tired of it.' "
Jo Ashline, a mom who takes care of a special-needs child and blogs from home for the Orange County Register about parenting, said hearing Rosen's comments felt like a betrayal from a fellow parent, and that they struck chords that have long been talked about among mothers, family and girlfriends.
"Moms judge other moms. I hate to say that. It's kind of a crappy thing to say, especially because we should be united as parents, as mothers. We all know how hard it is to raise a kid," she said. "There is a fence, a very tall fence."