Women and the GOP
Once again, conservative Americans have experienced stark disappointment at the polls. One of the biggest reasons for this disappointment is their failure to bring female voters and candidates into their tent. Women voted for Barack Obama in 2012 in a massive eleven-point landslide, while men preferred Romney by seven points. It's just this simple: Female hostility to Republicans made Obama president.
In 2013, Republicans lost the mayoralty of New York City, and they lost the governorship of Virginia. They "won" the governorship of New Jersey, but as J. Robert Smith pointed out recently they won it with a "puke" candidate who spent most of his last term cuddling Barack Obama. New Jersey voters also approved a 13% increase in the minimum wage with automatic cost of living adjustments going forward.
Female voters broke the back of Republicans in Virginia, where Democrats convinced female voters that Republicans were engaged in a "war on women." Women swept Christie into power even though he was running against a female opponent. Women supported the Democrat for New York City mayor to an extent that seemed slightly Soviet in character.
Here are the numbers on the female vote:
• New York City: 79% Democrat, 19% Republican (women were 52% of the turnout)
• New Jersey: 57% Republican, 42% Democrat (women were 54% of the turnout)
• Virginia: 51% Democrat, 42% Republican (women were 51% of the turnout)
Why are women so alienated from the GOP? It's because the party can't even do the simple little things right. Take Saudi Arabia, for example.
In Saudi Arabia last year, women could not vote, could not drive cars or even ride bicycles, and could not complain to the police if their husbands beat them. Domestic violence was not a crime. Girls did not have the right to play sports in school.
This year, these things began to change. Domestic violence was criminalized. Women were given the right to vote (as of 2015) and were appointed to political office. The playing fields were opened. Biking was permitted, and a women's political movement emerged and began to demand the right to drive, with female drivers defiantly posting YouTubes of themselves flouting the ban.
Of course, the right to vote only takes you so far in Saudi Arabia, seeing as how the country is a monarchy and elective offices are relatively lowly in stature. The right to vote itself, being a gift bestowed by royal fiat, is somewhat ephemeral. And the country's secret police have been phoning the YouTube posters, telling them they'd better stop or within days they'll find themselves in prison.
Now try to name a Republican leader you've heard speaking out in support of women's rights in Saudi Arabia. George W. Bush, you may recall, was infamously photographed literally holding hands with and kissing the Saudi oligarchy. If Republicans really feel it's essential to look the other way as Saudi Arabia enslaves its women (and to embrace other policies that women dislike, such as a pro-life position on abortion), then they need to take extra steps to reassure American female voters in other areas. But they're doing no such thing.
Speaking of Dubya, for some contrast to Saudi Arabia let's look at how the United States in general, and the GOP in particular, is doing with the issue of women's rights.
A woman has never been president or vice president of the United States. Only two women have been the nominee of a major party for vice president, none for president.
Three percent of all U.S. Fortune 500 companies have a female CEO.
Ten percent of all state governors are female.
Eighteen percent of all members of the U.S. House of Representatives are female. Six states (Alaska, Delaware, Iowa, Mississippi, North Dakota, and Vermont) have never elected a woman to the People's House.
Twenty percent of all U.S. Senators are female. The same twenty percent of Supreme Court justices are female.
To sum up: Though comprising 50.8% of the U.S. population and 56.4% of students enrolled in public universities (59.3% in private colleges), in no critical measure of American political or economic power do women wield even a quarter of the total.
There's clearly an opportunity here for one of the two parties to court women and vastly increase their political potency.
But Republicans, at least as far as national politics are concerned, don't seem too interested: Seventy-five percent of all female House members are Democrats, and eighty percent of all female U.S. senators are Democrats. Both female Supreme Court justices were appointed by Democrats. The only serious bid ever made for a female major party nomination for president was made by a Democrat.
The GOP does redeem itself, however, where state politics are concerned. Eighty percent of all female governors are Republicans. That's something to build on.
But do Republicans want to build? There's scant evidence that they do.
The younger generation seems to get it. Alexandra Smith is currently the National Chairperson of the College Republican National Committee, the first woman ever to hold that position, and three of the other twelve leadership positions at the Committee are filled by women. That's thirty percent of the total, if you are keeping score.
But Ms. Smith will be fighting an uphill battle if she looks to broaden the party's appeal to women among her elders. A woman currently chairs the Democratic National Committee, and two other women have previously held that post, but only one woman, Mary Louise Smith, has ever chaired the Republican National Committee, and that was four decades ago (though a few women have been permitted to co-chair since then).
I asked Ms. Smith for an interview regarding the Republican Party's accessibility to female leaders and its failure to attract female voters, but she would not answer my questions. I suspect that's because she is concerned that if she did she might burn some bridges to the party leadership, and if that's what she's afraid of she's probably not mistaken.
It's time for Republicans to stop taking female voters with a grain of salt. The party's electoral fortunes depend on it.
Follow Kim Zigfeld on Twitter @larussophobe.