Skip to main content

The Republican “War on Women”: Ding, Dong, the meme is dead

Written By | Nov 7, 2014

LOS ANGELES, November 6, 2014—Political analysts will be unpacking the 2014 mid-terms Republican tsunami for months to come, but one point is clearly evident: The supposed Republican “War on Women” was blown out of the water.

Ding, Dong, the meme is dead.

Washington Post’s Mary C. Curtis said it best, “The gender gap was not wide enough to save Sen. Mark Udall in Colorado, Bruce Braley in Iowa or incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan in North Carolina. Astute and well-financed campaigns honed a Republican message that worked spectacularly. And women who did show up at the polls let it be known that they hardly walk in gender lockstep on issues of education, the economy and abortion and choice.”

That’s an understatement, and Sen. Hagan’s loss was simply one example. Two of the poster children of this supposed war waged by Republicans were Wendy Davis of Texas, and Sandra Fluke of California.

Fluke gained national attention in 2012 when radio host Rush Limbaugh called her exactly what she was: “a slut.” This was in response to Fluke’s testimony at a hearing on the Affordable Care Act while she was a Georgetown Law School student. Fluke outlined her sex life and bemoaned the fact that Georgetown would not pay for her birth control. The pejorative lodged by Limbaugh rated Fluke a condolence call from President Obama, and a speaking spot at the 2012 Democrat National Convention.

From this illustrious platform of “activism” Fluke decided to mount a political campaign. It’s no surprise she lost to her fellow Democrat Ben Allen by over 21 points. Southern Californians are overtaxed, out of work, and dodging illegals with drivers licenses on the freeway; the least of our worries is free birth control. Exit, stage right for Sandra.

Wendy Davis ran in a deep red state on one plank: abortion. Davis became the Left’s media darling when, as a Texas state senator, she mounted an 11-hour filibuster of a bill that would ban abortions beyond 20 weeks of pregnancy. Battleground Texas, a grassroots group determined to turn Texas blue, banked on this media wave to carry Davis’ gubernatorial campaign against Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Davis’ lack of substance ultimately bit her in the ass. Once the media buzz finally died, Davis was shown to be not only a poor candidate, but an even more vacuous human being. From her lack of feminist credentials in marrying up in order to get out of the trailer park and using her then-husband to fund her ambitions of a law degree and career, to her desperate and unsubstantiated attacks on her disabled opponent, it was one misstep after another.

Davis’ campaign devolved into a tragi-comedy, and in the end, she turned women off. According to CNN’s exit polls, Abbot won women overall by 9 points, and he won married women by 25 points. While Davis made a great showing among Black and Hispanic women (95 percent and 61 percent respectively, versus 5 percent for Abbott), she only won unmarried women by 14 points.

Once all the ballots were tallied, Davis garnered 38.9 percent of the total vote. Let that sink in.

In typical fashion, the detractors of this outcome are pulling the race card. Jenny Kutner took to Salon to complain how white women not only failed Wendy Davis, but they have failed Texas too. Queue the tiny violins.

Newsflash to Democrats: women don’t simply vote for lady parts. We vote on substance, issues, and dare I say character, and these women were lacking in all three arenas.

On the converse, not only did Republicans boost the role of women in the American electorate, but many of its women candidates made history with their wins.

Thirty-year old Elise Stefanik won in New York’s upstate 21st District, beating Democrat Aaron Wolf with 56 percent of the vote. Stefanik has made history as the youngest female to win a seat in the House, and the first Republican in 21 years to win that district.

Utah’s Mia Love has also made history by being the first African-American Republican woman elected to Congress. Love won her Congressional bid against Democrat Doug Owens, with 50 percent of the vote.

Joni Ernst will be the first woman elected to represent Iowa in the Senate, as well as the first female combat veteran. What was said to be a tight race turned out to be a rout; Ernst beat challenger Bruce Braley with 52 percentage points to his 43 percent.

Indian-American Nikki Haley won her re-election bid as governor of South Carolina, beating back her challenger, South Carolina state senator Vincent Sheheen with 56 percent of the vote to his 41.1 percent. Sheheen stuck his foot in it when he called Haley a “whore” and said she should be “escorted out the door”. Apparently the war on women only matters when it is done by Republicans.

New Mexico governor Susana Martinez also won re-election, garnering 58 percent of the vote over Democrat challenger Gary King. Martinez has made history not only as the first female Hispanic-American governor, but by the fact that no New Mexico GOP governor had ever won with more than 55 percent in 50 years. Quite a coup.

So much for the GOP being the party of Old White Men. The mere presence of these women in the electoral body sends a clear message. A focus on building the economy, creating jobs, repealing Obamacare, personal responsibility, fiscal discipline, domestic defense, and limited government does not just resonate with men; but with Americans of all races and genders. Having a track record of effecting change—not just talking about it—also wins the day.

It seems a note of congratulations to Reince Preibus is in order, as well as a condolence bouquet to Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Jennifer Oliver OConnell

Jennifer Oliver OConnell

Jennifer Oliver OConnell offers witty, insightful, and direct opinion, analysis and musings on local and national politics and popular culture, with occasional detours into reinvention, food, and Yoga. Jennifer also teaches Yoga, and coaches clients on careers and reinvention. You can keep up with what's in Jennifer's orbit through her As the Girl Turns website.