The Truth Behind the Political Influence of “Walmart Moms”

Joel Eisenberg

How a risky effort of the part of the venerable chain led to the mom’s-only group becoming among the most important political influencers in the 2016 election.

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“Walmart Mom”Shutterstock

Author’s Note

This article is free of bias, and is based on corporate postings and accredited media reports. All linked information within this article is fully-attributed to the following outlets: Harvard University Press, SlangIt.com, UrbanDictionary.com, Potion.Social, The Washington Post, Walmart.com, Corporate.Walmart.com, ABC News, The Daily Beast, and ModernMami.com.

Introduction

The concept of “Walmart Moms” was triggered during the 2008 election year. That summer, Walmart’s corporate office assembled a volunteer team of mom shoppers to blog for its new Money Saving Community Project, which was, according to the Harvard University Press, in part an effort to co-opt a choice segment of the electorate. In Harvard University Press’ article entitled ”The Walmart Mom Goes to Washington,” “Walmart Moms” shortly thereafter became a more highly-organized blogging force, sponsored by Walmart itself, to not only influence undecided voters as de facto company brand ambassadors but also to promote money saving brands themselves.

“Walmart Moms” as an organized force was discontinued by the company in 2016. Until then, the profile of “Walmart Moms” were woman with children at home 18 or younger who shopped at a Walmart location at least once a month, and knew what it is like to stretch a budget while juggling the demands of family.

Though in recent years the term “Walmart Mom,” or “Walmart Moms,” has been adapted as a stereotype to describe an unattractive Caucasian woman with kids who lives in the suburbs, takes part in community, and near-always shops at Walmart according to the online Urban Dictionary, the truth is considerably more complex.

Slangit.com delves further, defining “Walmart Moms” today as still an influencer faction, but of specific political interests: a political term used to describe a Republican voting mother that is worried about the economy. Wal-Mart mom was created to represent mothers who identify as Republicans that have shopped at Wal-Mart within the last month. Along with concerns about the economy, a person under this category is also worried about illegal immigration, and rising insurance costs. Example: "She is a good candidate for a southern state because she is very likable among NASCAR dads and Wal-Mart moms."

This, though, was not always the case, as ”Walmart Moms” largely voted for Obama in the previous election.

A vintage October, 2015 blog by Maïlys Reslinger, for the website Potion.Social (identifying itself as a “social software” company), is devoted to “Walmart Moms.” Entitled ”How Walmart Made 11 Moms Become Its Brand Ambassadors,” the comprehensive blog states: Walmart Moms, which was originally called ElevenMoms, is an online community created by Walmart to represent this large and diverse demographic. It is currently composed of 22 moms who write blogs and share information on raising kids, shopping, household chores and more. The blogs written by Walmart Moms can be found on the Walmart.com website and on the moms’ personal blogs.

Reslinger’s blog elaborates on the matter: The philosophy behind Walmart Moms is that these 22 Moms represent a cross-section of mothers across the nation. They are described on the site as “moms like you.” Because the moms are quite varied in terms of geography, ethnicity and age, many readers are able to identify with the challenges and choices made by these bloggers.

An archived February, 2013 Washington Post article, written by Karen Tumulty and titled “The State of the Wal-Mart Moms,” says the following: Wal-Mart Moms don’t spend a lot of time thinking about politics, but when they do, it is on a very pragmatic level: Which candidate or party is going to make life better for my family? In the past few election cycles, they have been a bellwether group. Wal-Mart Moms –estimated to constitute between 14 percent and 17 percent of the electorate — voted for Obama in 2008, swung to the Republicans in 2010, and returned to Obama last year.

If these women did not think of politics that frequently, how then — or why, then — had they become so influential in the body politic?

Let us explore.

Walmart Moms and Politics

In August, 2016, ABCNews.Go.com published “Why Walmart Moms Are 'Disgusted' and 'Frustrated' by the 2016 Election” by Ryan Struyk.

As excerpted from Struyk’s article: There's another demographic to watch in the 2016 race: women with children who have shopped at Walmart in the last month — dubbed Walmart moms. Some from the battleground states of Ohio and Arizona gave their takes on the presidential election in focus groups on Tuesday night. The gatherings, spearheaded by Penn Schoen Berland and Public Opinion Strategies and closely watched by the media, began in 2008 as a way to study a pivotal group that makes up 14 to 17 percent of the U.S. electorate. They voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.

They voted Republican, thereafter.

Eleanor Clift updated her 2013 TheDailyBeast.com article on Walmart Moms and then-potential 2016 presidential candidates in July, 2017. Titled “‘Walmart Moms’ are Furious With Washington,” Clift delved into a general sense of ill-will on the part of Walmart Moms towards likely candidate Hillary Clinton.

Clift’s article further explained: As the deal to restore funding to the government was coming together in Washington Wednesday evening, “Walmart Moms” were assembling—one group of 10 in Nashville, the other in Kansas City. Each participant had shopped in Walmart at least once in the last month, has a child under 18, and voted in the last election, roughly half for Obama, and half for Romney. Live streamed from their respective cities, they let us know in unvarnished terms what Middle America mothers think about Washington and it’s what you would expect. Partisan politics are “disgusting,” politicians act like kindergarteners, threatening to take their toys and go home when they don’t get their way, plus they’re slackers.

The Walmart Moms official company-sponsored blog was discontinued nearly six years ago. See here for August, 2016 ModernMami.com blog by Melanie Edwards, titled ”Bidding Farewell to the Walmart Moms Blogger Program.”

From Edwards’ blog, who herself was a “Walmart Mom”: After a wonderful 5 1/2 years as a member of the Walmart Moms Blogger Program, I’m sad to announce that the Walmart team is going in a different direction with their blogger and influencer relations, allowing for partnerships on a larger scale. While the Walmart Moms Blogger Program may be officially coming to an end in September, I have certainly enjoyed my time working with a wonderfully diverse group of women, bloggers, and mothers! I’ve also learned a lot during my time as a Walmart Mom and look forward to continuing to apply that knowledge in my work as a blogger and influencer.

Nothing lasts forever.

Conclusion

“Walmart Moms” became substantial influencers in politics as politicians largely believed they represented Middle America values.

Though many of those identified as “Walmart Moms” switched political affiliations for the 2016 election, despite some public reluctance, they remained a viable group to candidates of both major parties.

Today, “Walmart Moms” is a generalized term. Though mothers who currently shop in Walmart — as opposed to the formal “Walmart Moms” group — are still largely considered to represent Middle America by politicians and the public, a discontinuation on the part of Walmart corporate in sponsoring an official lot organized of influential mom bloggers has stemmed — not curtailed — their specific influence in reaching a potential prized voting block: on the fence female voters.

It should be noted that some former ”Walmart Moms,” such as Melanie Edwards, have, however, continued their own blogs and make it a practice to reach out to and influence fellow mom shoppers.

Thank you for reading.

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I am an award-winning author, screenwriter for film and television, and producer. My mission on News Break is to share socially important perspectives on both culture and pop-culture. Member of PEN America, and the WGA.

Northridge, CA
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