Polling suggests that Lake is right. The gender gap afflicting Romney has actually grown in recent months as Ann has taken this active role — growing from 12 to 20 points in a new USA Today/Gallup swing-state poll released this week.

Ultimately, of course, Romney himself is the only one who can turn that around. But he could use some help, and the GOP has very little it can offer him.

To read the Talking Politics blog, go to  thePhoenix.com/talkingpolitics. David S. Bernstein can be reached at dbernstein@phx.com. Follow him on Twitter @dbernstein.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers as being from Florida, and being the seventh-highest-ranking House Republican. She is in fact from Washington State and is the fifth-highest-ranking House Republican.

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