Republicans have a problem with women. Oh, they will tell you they like them fine, that they are great moms, teachers and nurses. (Thanks for the benevolent sexism there.)
But boy, is it hard to get Republicans to elect women.
Look, I’ve heard it hundreds of times. “I don’t vote based on gender. I vote for the best candidate.” Great. So do I. It’s just that data show that if you’re Republican, you’re much less likely to vote for a female candidate.
The truth hurts sometimes, doesn’t it?
Let’s look at the numbers.
This year could justifiably be called “The Year of the Woman” — if you were a Democrat running for Congress. A record-breaking 89 Democratic women will take office in January. But of the 100 Republican women who were not incumbents, only one — one — won her race for the U.S. House: Rep.-elect Carol Miller of West Virginia. The incumbent Republican women in Congress saw their ranks decimated as well, with almost half of them not returning. Ouch.
Few Republican women make it to Congress, and it starts at the local level. State legislative experience is often a steppingstone for people who eventually make it to D.C., and Republican women are getting elected at lower numbers than Democratic women in state legislatures.
“The Republicanism of a state’s electorate remains a strong, significant predictor of fewer women among Republican [state] legislators,” Laurel Elder wrote in an essay that was part of an anthology published this year called “The Right Women,” which explores the state of women in the GOP. Double ouch.
Utah fits right in to those stats. There are now more men named Dan in the Utah Senate than there are Republican women. Triple ouch.
Earlier this year, the Pew Research Center released new data that shows that there are not only differences between the two major parties but between the men and women of each party.
Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters are more than twice as likely as Republicans to say there are too few women in high political office (79 percent to 33 percent) and as a group, 64 percent of Democrats feel that gender discrimination is a reason, while only 30 percent of Republicans agree.
Within the GOP, Republican and Republican-leaning women are almost twice as likely as Republican men to say there are too few women in office (44 percent to 24 percent). Republican women are also much more likely to feel that women need to do more to prove themselves — 64 percent of the women to just 28 percent of the men. In addition, Republican women are more than three times more likely to believe that discrimination keeps women out of office — 48 percent to just 14 percent of men. Two-thirds of all adults feel it is easier for men to get elected to high political office, but fewer than half of the Republican men feel that’s true.
Earlier this week, Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., said that “GOP leadership needs to ‘put their money where their mouth is’ if they are serious about diversifying the conference and getting more women elected.” She has plans to help female candidates earlier in the election cycle — and drew pushback from some of her colleagues, like Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), who called it a “mistake.”
“I will not ask for permission,” said Stefanik.
Still, support from leadership remains sparse at best. Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., was going to run for the chairmanship of the National Republican Congressional Committee and had the support and the qualifications she needed to win. But, she says, current House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., had “different plans” and she stepped aside. So who is the NRCC chair McCarthy had in mind? Tom Emmer. Quadruple ouch.
Rep. Mia Love wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post this week, saying that “Republicans have failed to bring our message to minorities.” We have also failed to bring our message to women.
Holly Richardson, a regular contributor to The Salt Lake Tribune, knows it’s not just gender that is resulting in women losing elections, but until Republicans are brave enough to admit the truth, they will continue losing women from their party, as elected officials and as voters.