Big Gains for Women & Minorities

Tammy Baldwin (Wis.)American voters rejected big money influence when much of the one billion dollars spent by outside groups proved to be ineffective. The 2012 election, however, reaped huge gains for Democrats, progressive women, minorities, and the environment. Voters in Missouri, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, and Indiana sent candidates home with an electoral smack down for miscalculating what really matters to women and non-whites, the rising American electorate.

Mazie Hirono (Hawaii)It was a record-breaking year for women with satisfying victories happening in Missouri, where Todd “legitimate rape” Akin was shut down by Claire McCaskill, and in Indiana, where Richard Mourdock, a Tea Party candidate lost his bid for a Senate seat after asserting he would not make an exception for abortions in the case of rape because pregnancies are “something that God intended to happen.”

Credit is given to Washington senator and Democratic senatorial campaign chair, Patty Murray, who kept reproductive rights, Medicare, and jobs front and center. She identified candidates like McCaskill, Tammy Baldwin (Wis.) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) as a key part of the Democratic Party’s strategy to keep the Senate. The 113th Congress will include the most female Senate members ever (20), with numerous “firsts”. Baldwin, will be the first openly gay Senator, and Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) is the first Asian-American woman and first Buddhist to join the Senate.

Tammy Baldwin (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Gender Gap or Marriage Gap?

There has been a lot of media yammering in this election cycle about the impact of the “women’s vote” but despite what is implied by the stories and campaign rhetoric, women are not a single voting bloc. According to valuable research from the Voter Participation Center (VPC) “women’s marital status is a key predictor of electoral participation, preferences and values. Married women are more likely to register and to vote than unmarried women.”

Unmarried women (never married, separated, divorced, or widowed) are one of the fastest growing demographic groups in America, hugely increasing their percentage of all potential voters. No doubt women will have a significant impact on the election, but if unmarried women turn out in larger proportions than they have in the past, it will have a greater impact on electing more progressive candidates and causes. According to the VPC’s fact sheet, cleverly designed as a binder full of statistics about single women, unmarried women tend to vote for the more progressive candidates. Boosting the civic engagement of unmarried women will lead to more elected representatives and public policies that better reflect the rising American electorate.

With less than two weeks before the national election don’t succumb to the weariness of the electoral process. There are dozens of important races and issues on the ballot for November 6th. Hopefully the outbursts from women on the social web over recent gaffs such as “binders full of women” and the more disturbing and clueless statements from current and potential members of Congress on birth control, rape and pregnancy, will translate into more women, and more single women, showing up at the polls.

There are many websites to help sort through the candidate positions and ballot measures. We recommend non-partisan sites, like BallotPedia and Project Vote Smart for factual information on the “down-ballot” issues that are often overlooked but are as important in this election as the presidential race. EWIP is a 501(c)(3) and therefore we won’t endorse any candidate, but if you want to put in a plea for a cause, or candidate worthy of attention, please add your voice to our comment section. Help your friends, families, and unmarried neighbors get out there and vote. Our country, our democracy depend on it.

Are They Coming for Your Birth Control?

Interesting link to this article in Salon–Rick Santorum wants to make all contraceptives illegal, even for married couples. How did he get so far in the Republican party? and does the GOP want to be taken seriously by women? The political process is one of the most effective ways anywhere of getting your thoughts heard–at that level it is certainly more effective than writing, starting a magazine, or having a cable TV show. By the time a candidate reaches that level in the political process he (or, very occasionally, she) is able to leverage the total power of the media. It gives a kind of credibility to the thoughts and opinions of people participating in the political process. We in the media and we as citizens need to hold them accountable for that.