ONTD Political

'War on women' may have helped Democrats; Senate has record number of women

12:01 pm - 11/07/2012
The Year of the Woman, 1992, was declared a triumph when the number of women in the Senate increased to six.

This year, the so-called "War on Women" energized Democrats to break a record for the number of women-held seats in the Senate. Nineteen women are in the Senate now, one more than the record set during the last Congress.

Among them are Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren who became the first female senator of Massachusetts when she ousted Sen. Scott Brown; Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay senator, who edged out former Governor Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin; and incumbent Claire McCaskill of Missouri, who beat Republican Todd Akin whose comments about rape were likely his demise.

No one disputes there remains a dramatic gender gap in Congress, where women make up just 17 percent of the House and the Senate. But women have slowly gained political power since 1991, when there were just two women in the Senate.

NBC has also confirmed that Deb Fischer, a Republican, beat former Sen. Bob Kerrey in Nebraska, that Democrat Mazie Hirono in Hawaii beat Linda Lingle, becoming the Senate's first Asian-American woman.

Among incumbents, Sens. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Dianne Feinstein of California, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Maria Cantwell of Washington state won reelection by wide margins.

Also significant: Roughly half the 33 Senate races had a viable female candidate, more than ever before, according to NPR. That’s noteworthy because women less often seek out office or have more trouble raising campaign money.

“There’s no group that will be impacted more by this election than women,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said on her website. “Look at the bills the GOP House has passed this Congress: they voted to redefine rape, they voted to defund Planned Parenthood and Title X funding.”

Gillibrand herself easily won re-election over Republican Wendy Long.

There will be fewer female governors after this election, however. There are currently six women governors out of 50, and Govs. Chris Gregoire of Washington and Bev Perdue of North Carolina, both Democrats, are retiring.

Gregoire’s retirement means Washington state will lose its distinction of having a female governor and two female senators at the same time. Now that Democrat Maggie Hassan has been elected governor, New Hampshire will assume that distinction -- and then some: the state's governor and Congressional delegation is female, EMILY's List posted Tuesday night.

"We've always had a tradition of a lot of women running for office in New Hampshire," New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a Republican, told NBC's Brian Williams on Tuesday.

Washington Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat who was first elected in the Year of the Woman, served as the party’s chief recruiter, seeking out qualified women and capitalizing on the "war on women" in a speech she made at the Democratic convention in early September.

(Murray was not up for re-election this cycle.)

Murray recruited Rep. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, who was trailing in early returns against former Gov. Tommy Thompson, and Shelley Berkley of Nevada, who was running against Dean Heller.

"When we started this campaign, no one, and I mean no one gave us a chance," said Murray on Tuesday night, according to the Huffington Post. "But we went out and built the best Senate campaigns in the history of the country. We recruited some of the highest quality candidates, including a record number of women. Democrats never let up and now we will retain our majority in the United States Senate."

McCaskill, the incumbent, was in danger of losing her seat until Akin said in a television interview that "legitimate" rape would not result in a pregnancy, because the female body “has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.”

His comments, decried as sexist and out of touch, returned McCaskill to the game.

In the month after Akin made those remarks, EMILY's List, which supports women candidates, raised $2.3 million, the Wall Street Journal reported. After another rape comment, made by another GOP candidate, Emily’s List raised another $631,000.

In New York, Gillibrand made women’s issues a theme in her re-election campaign. One ad opens with her pointing out that she is one of the only female senators with young children.

Her ad concludes: “I’m Kirsten Gillibrand and I approve this message because if 51 percent of Congress were women, we wouldn’t be debating contraception, we would be debating jobs and the economy.”

the_physicist 7th-Nov-2012 07:23 pm (UTC)
Akin didn't win? Wooooh! I think hope for humanity might have died if he had. Phew. Glad McCaskill won. And good to see that huge imbalance has been every so slightly shifted towards more women again.

Edited at 2012-11-07 07:27 pm (UTC)
tabaqui 8th-Nov-2012 01:48 am (UTC)
OH, yeah, we kicked his *ass*.
creepers58 7th-Nov-2012 07:28 pm (UTC)
I think Heidi Heitkamp needs to be added to the number of female senators. Rick Berg just conceded the ND race.

Fargo Forum
noodledays 7th-Nov-2012 07:34 pm (UTC)
imnotasquirrel 7th-Nov-2012 07:31 pm (UTC)
man, akin really screwed himself over, especially when you consider that the state still went for romney, so it's not like they were swinging democrat overall.

the schadenfreude is delicious.
hilsongirl 7th-Nov-2012 07:39 pm (UTC)
jazzypom Ryan's still kept his seat in Wisconsin, I hear?7th-Nov-2012 07:41 pm (UTC)
Is that true?
bmh4d0k3n 7th-Nov-2012 07:45 pm (UTC)
Yay, Tammy Baldwin!!! I'm so proud I got to vote for her!
__nocturna 7th-Nov-2012 07:48 pm (UTC)
We did WORK this election
teenageriot16 7th-Nov-2012 07:53 pm (UTC)
Here's hoping the GOP party begins to implode on themselves following this election.

I'm just so pleased that after the GOP's war on women and being told that 'women's issues' didn't matter that the polls have finally made a statement that it's not fucking ok to be a rape apologist. I feel like I'm rambling, but I'm hoping that these lost seats will make the GOP wake up that you cannot treat women voters like this anymore.
sio 7th-Nov-2012 08:24 pm (UTC)
so Feinstein did get reelected? cuz the polls i saw last night said her opponent won.
pixistik1687 7th-Nov-2012 08:35 pm (UTC)
raspberryjaaam 7th-Nov-2012 09:26 pm (UTC)
velvetunicorn 7th-Nov-2012 09:49 pm (UTC)
I'm not familiar with Kirsten Gillibrand but she's spot on with her last line. Everyone was saying the economy was the big issue but let's be honest, all the right has been doing lately is trying to make contraceptives and abortion harder to come by.
jazzypom I don't get men like that at all 8th-Nov-2012 07:53 am (UTC)
Birth control is an economic issue. The women I know on birth control do so because they have a finite amount of resources, and there are some who wish to enjoy the act of sex without getting pregnant, and will take measures to do so. I can't see how that's difficult for Republicans to understand?*

*I can see, because they wish to create the white underclass that was still electing them into power, but hopefully, that ship has sailed.
fuckfrosti 7th-Nov-2012 10:37 pm (UTC)
title or description
zinnia_rose 8th-Nov-2012 02:56 am (UTC)
Love it!!
bluelarkspur 7th-Nov-2012 10:56 pm (UTC)
I honestly hope that the GOP doesn't tell their guys to reign it in. I like knowing their awful, misogynistic beliefs up front.
leviicorpus 7th-Nov-2012 11:00 pm (UTC)
mte. Makes it so much easier to oust their asses come election time.
lovedforaday 7th-Nov-2012 11:16 pm (UTC)
The right is still going around saying that the war on women is a fabrication made up by Obama and the Dems to trick women into voting for them. Some people will never learn.
flying_pandas 8th-Nov-2012 12:09 am (UTC)
lbr - in 4 years they'll be saying they're responsible for getting more women (binders full, maybe?) elected to senate and twisting the story somehow.
qable 7th-Nov-2012 11:26 pm (UTC)
Is Michelle Bachmann still in office? I went to bed last night when things were still a tossup.
clarice_01 8th-Nov-2012 12:02 am (UTC)
Yup. Graves has conceded.
crooked_halo 8th-Nov-2012 12:16 am (UTC)
I quite liked this post that I saw on Twitter: "Elected to the Senate today: the first disabled woman, first openly lesbian woman, first Asian woman. Binder full of fucking awesome."

19 women in the senate though! Wow.

I just hope that the Republican party realizes now that yes, women do vote. And yes, rape is a HUGE issue plaguing our country, and not just a talking point. Either take the time and sensitivity to learn about both rape and the experience of victims of rape or keep your mouth shut on the topic. (preferably the first one)

I also hope they realize that human rights are not simply 'social issues' that will be eclipsed by (albeit, crazy/unrealistic) promises to turn the economy around. People actually care about protecting their rights. (Go figure!)
wrestlingdog 8th-Nov-2012 01:14 am (UTC)

mollywobbles867 8th-Nov-2012 01:21 am (UTC)
This is amazing.
doverz 8th-Nov-2012 05:38 am (UTC)
So glad that we have more women in Congress. Also super glad that Tammy Baldwin won.
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