Is the War on Women Finally Over?
Last night, women delivered their own blunt message to the GOP: we were repelled by all your loose, ugly talk about abortion and rape. And that’s why we voted against you.
After months of the war on women, something momentous happened in Tuesday’s election. Women fought back by electing an historic number of women to the Senate, rejecting the retrograde male candidates who couldn’t stop talking about their lady parts, and reasserting their rights. They also voted overwhelmingly to re-elect a pro-choice President.
Part of the reason for President Obama’s victory is that he captured 55 percent of the women’s vote. Young women like my daughter, who was texting me constantly last night -- had I heard about rape apologist Richard Mourdock yet? -- especially turned out for the president because of his strong stance on women’s reproductive rights. The much-ballyhooed gender gap between Romney and Obama not only didn’t close, as some Republican pundits continued to insist it would. Instead, it widened to a glaring 18 points, even bigger than the 12-point gap in 2008.
If it hadn't been evident before, last night’s results showed just how out of touch with women Republicans truly are. In nearly every contest involving a choice between a Democratic female candidate and a conservative male, the Democratic woman prevailed. Sen. Claire McCaskill beat “legitimate rape” nut Todd Akin in Missouri. The feisty Elizabeth Warren won back Ted Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts from Scott Brown, who claimed to be pro-choice but couldn’t dodge his record. Democrat Tammy Baldwin won a tight race against former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson to become the first openly gay member of the Senate. Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, whose mind-blowing comment that rape is “something that God intended” drew national scorn, also won’t be going to Washington. I was particularly overjoyed when Illinois Republican Joe Walsh, who claimed an abortion could never save a woman’s life, lost to Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth after attacking her military service. Now there’s justice.
Or as Emily's List president Stephanie Schirock wrote in an email this morning:
The impact of this historic election will be felt long beyond the days and weeks to come. Women and families across America will see firsthand the difference of your commitment to progressive ideals and women's leadership. And elected officials who push extreme policies know that they will be held accountable by the country's most powerful voting bloc.
Our firewall of Democratic women senators is stronger than ever -- ready to safeguard education, retirement security, and women's health. In the House, Boehner, Cantor, and Ryan will have to contend with a fierce new legion of pro-choice Democratic congresswomen. And yes, thanks to you we wake up in an America that still has one amazing Democratic woman governor.
In the aftermath of their brutal defeat, there’s a lot of soul-searching going on in the Republican party about how they alienated women. To wit:
- "They’ve got to look at last night," Karen Tumulty, a national reporter for The Washington Post, told Andrew Mitchell on MSNBC this morning. “They lost two Senate races they should have won in Missouri and in Indiana. It was because they nominated candidates who were too extreme even in conservative states. So this is not just a presidential problem. It is a problem that has become endemic up and down the ballot."
- "You cannot dodge, I think, the reality that the Republican Party has a woman problem," said conservative pundit Peggy Noon on Fox News today. "Men are supportive, women are not. You've got to look at it. And I suspect as the party gets itself together, it will start to think, 'Well, maybe as we consider that, we better have some women in the room.'"
- “We took a major step backwards these last two years,” lamented former RNC chairman Michael Steele on MSNBC this morning.
Whether they will listen is anybody’s guess. With Arizona and other states still trying to restrict women’s access to abortion, we’re not done fighting yet.