Election 2010: Women Candidates & Voters

Posted on September 30, 2010 by

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Women voters, candidates, and political figures in their participation or lack thereof will help shape the outcome of the 2010 election.

Generally Speaking

Women as politicians and political candidates, I’ve observed, seem to be incredibly polarizing forces.  You either love her or you despise her, and it would appear that for many folks just seeing a photo and knowing her political affiliation is a sufficient basis to form that opinion.

As a female politician certain qualities seem requisite; phenomenal intelligence, impressive educational background, squeaky clean image, thick skin, and willingness to dress in drab attire.  For Example:

Hillary Clinton: Senator, Secretary of State, Attended Yale Law, Married

Good looks, however, are not a requirement for public office nor should they be; the only time a candidate’s aesthetic appeal seems to be discussed is in the instance of a woman or a particularly attractive male….or Ross Perot.  As much as I hate to mention physical appearance, it is pertinent in that it is generally referenced in some capacity either by the candidate’s detractors or by political commentators, and often widely discussed by the public.

We all remember the concern expressed by the incredibly handsome, intelligent, and youthful Rush Limbaugh about Hillary Clinton as a president, right?

Rush Limbaugh: Southeast Missouri State University- dropped out after two semesters and one summer. By the account of his mother, "he flunked everything" 3 ex-wives and a prescription drug addiction or two later, he is still doing great things.

“Will Americans want to watch a woman get older before their eyes on a daily basis?”

Fun Fact: we have this charming fellow to thank for coining the term “feminazi” as well!

Election 2010: Women Candidates

This has been a record breaking (or tying) year in almost every arena for female candidates.  According to the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University:

  • A record 36 (19D, 17R) women filed for the U.S. Senate
  • A record  14 (9D, 5R) women primary winners
  • A record 262 (134D, 128R) women filed for the U.S. House
  • A record-tying 10 (5D, 5R) women are candidates for governor in 8 states

You can see all of the female candidates here, but let’s scope out some of the female candidates in the top races this year and their academic credentials:

Senate

Sharron Angle (R) Nevada: BA in Fine Arts from University of Nevada Reno

Barbra Boxer (D) California: Brooklyn College with a B.A. in Economics

Carly Fiorina (R) California: BA from Stanford, MBA from University of Maryland, MS in Business from MIT

Kristen Gillibrand (D) New York: magna cum laude from Dartmouth College & JD from University of California at L.A. School of Law

Linda McMahon (R) Connecticut: BS in French from East Carolina University

Patty Murray (D) Washington: BA from Washington State University

Gubernatorial Candidates

Meg Whitman (R) California: BA inEconomics from Princeton University MBA from Harvard Business School

Alex Sink (D) Florida: degree in mathematics from Wake Forest University

After researching the women in these top races and their educational backgrounds, to my surprise I came to respect several who I hadn’t previously.  I always wondered how any woman could betray a women’s issue like abortion, and how other women could trust or support such a woman.  I’ve come to the conclusion that I can have respect for a woman candidate on the merits of her accomplishments and adherence to ethics, not just on how closely her political and philosophical convictions align with mine.

Women Voters

Voter turnout for mid term elections is generally pretty lack-luster, but for Election 2010 women especially seem to be lacking enthusiasm.  They may turn out in lower numbers than has been the trend for the last 20+ years;

“In  1984, women’s voting rates in presidential elections surpassed those of men  for the first time since the Census Bureau began collecting voting data in 1964. Women’s voting rates have been higher than men’s ever since.”

NPR recently featured an article examining the concept of weary working women and what it could mean for the upcoming election.  The journalist was looking at women’s exhaustion from dealing with the economic downturn, and frustration with the Democratic party they have supported.

A recent article in the New York Times studied the results of a poll that indicated a similar sentiment, that women were “despairing” while men were “fuming”.  Anger is clearly a better motivator than feeling helpless, and in this article the assessment was that anger is converting to energy and action for men, and the hopelessness was converting to apathy and inaction for many women.

Considering that a majority of women vote Democrat, this could be another obstacle for Dems in the 2010 Election.

In Conclusion


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