Friday, October 22, 2010

Women Voters Deserting Democrats?

I had Chris Matthews on in the background as I got ready for class yesterday, and this clip about women voters leaving the Democratic party caught my eye. At first I was a bit flabbergasted. All I could think was "how is this possible?"

I read one article that claims taxes are the reason there are more women joining in politics on the right. Women are now the breadwinners in almost 40 percent of family households, so it makes sense that economic factors are going to be important. But the idea that taxes are the reason women are turning away from the Democratic party has my scratching my head since we know the taxes have fallen under President Obama. If this is as important of an issue that people want us to believe, then shouldn't Democrats be gaining women voters with that fact?

There are certainly more women candidates running as Republicans then ever before. But what those "Year of the Republican Woman" articles don't mention is that though there were more Republican women running in House primaries this year, more lost than in 2004. Don't get me wrong, the numbers are still pretty impressive.

From The Center for American Women and Politics (pdf):
Senate: The 36 women (19D, 17R) who filed for U.S. Senate seats exceeded the previous record of 29 (22D, 7R) set in 1992. Fifteen (9D, 6R*) women are running in the general election for the Senate in 14 states, and increase over the record of 12 (8D, 4R) set in 2006.

*Sen. Lisa Murkowski lost her primary, but is running as a write-in candidate in the general election.

House of Representatives: A record-shattering 262 women (134D, 128R) filed and ran in primaries for the U.S. House of Representatives, far surpassing the 1992 peak of 222 (140D, 82R). But many were defeated in primaries, leaving 138 women (91D, 47R) as general election candidates. There are currently 73 women (56D, 17R) in the House, along with 3 (3D) delegates from the District of Columbia, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Governor: A total of 26 women (12D, 14R) filed for governor, and a record-tying 10 (5D, 5R) are general election candidates in 8 states. In two states, New Mexico and Oklahoma, both major party gubernatorial candidates are women; each state will elect its first woman governor. The ten candidates running this year match the numbers in 2006 (5D, 5R) and 1994 (6D, 3R, 1 ACP†). No woman of color has ever served as governor of a state, but two are candidates this year.
Unfortunately it seems to come down to the fact that even though women voters generally favor Democrats over Republicans, they are also more likely to be evenly split between both parties during periods of economic unrest. There's no big upheaval going on among women voters or anti-Obama plot going on. Women are just tired of struggling in this economy as much as everyone else. The fact the Republicans get to benefit from that unhappiness, is just a consequence of only having two options. Talk of how women relate to the spirit of the outsider the Tea Party represents is ridiculous.

In the end we can't forget that not all women are pro-women. So if we're going to look to the Sarah Palin's and the Michele Bachmann's of the world for any kind of support or representation, then we're only deluding ourselves. But as much as it pains me to say it, if the Republicans gain some votes because the Democrats haven't been able to get their shit together, well then they deserve them. The Republican part will have to make some definite changes to their party if they have any hope of holding on to women voters. And I don't see anything wrong with that.

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