The XX Factor

Why Compelling Democratic Women Candidates Matter

A New York Times /CBS News poll published today shows that women-who are historically more likely to head to the polls-are unenthusiastic about voting in the November elections. An article unpacking the poll in the Times also explains that women are more likely to vote Democratic, by a margin of 7 percentage points (36 percent of women say they will vote Republican; 43, Democratic). These results make me think that it’s not just women who are falling for the hyperbolic charms of Sarah Palin and her Grizzly army. Sure, the media picks up on every fart and fidget from Christine O’Donnell, but that doesn’t mean she’s actually someone that most women want to vote for. It seems like men-whom the Times speculates are “angrier than women, and that their anger may be more motivating”-are the ones who are bolstering high-profile female Tea Partiers like O’Donnell, South Carolina Gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley, and Nevada Senate hopeful Sharron Angle.

But the other thing worth highlighting about these results is that these typically Democratic-voting women are apparently not impressed by the candidates that they are seeing on the left side of the highway. As I noted in a post from July, none of the Democratic women candidates running in this fall’s election has the same sort of charisma that Sarah Palin possesses . The following month, Noreen explored ways in which liberal women candidates have been marketing themselves in the age of the Mama Grizzly-and found their approach pretty scattershot.

On the one hand, it’s comforting that women aren’t buying the empty message that Palin and her pals are selling. However, it’s pretty devastating that women are so depressed about the recession (the Times notes that women feel particularly hopeless about economic issues) and so unimpressed by the candidates running that they may stay away from the polls entirely come November. We’re clearly in a moment when many women are hungry for an exciting female force-if only a liberal one would emerge.

Photograph of Democrat Barbara Boxer by Justin Sullivan for Getty Images.