Election 2012: the year of the woman?

With five out of six victories going to women candidates, the Wisconsin recall elections have shown us one thing: 2012 is set to be the year of the woman. Republicans who supported Governor Walker’s union busting bill are being challenged by pro-choice women. These women – Nancy Nusbaum, Sandy Pasch, Shelly Moore, Jessica King and Jennifer Shilling are foreshadowing what is to come on the national level.

If all of the Democratic women hold their seats next fall, the Democrats will hold the Senate. With the assault both on at reproductive rights the state and national level, electing and re-electing women candidates is essential to pushing back against anti-women legislation. Union busting bills are anti-woman as well, as many of the jobs with unionized employees are jobs held by women like nursing and teaching. For example, 73% of the membership of the American Federation of Teachers is female. The debate over the debt ceiling and spending cuts have targeted many of the programs and resources women rely on for healthcare, family planning and the social safety net.

Not all women candidates are created equal however: Michele Bachmann’s rise in the Republican primary is an example of this phenomenon. Not every female candidate should be supported. That said, EMILY’s List is a great place to start when determining which candidates to support with your donations and your volunteer hours. EMILY’s list spokesperson Jess McIntosh told Bloomberg News that “Republicans are waging war against the very things that keep women and their families thriving…That is a huge motivator for women to run and for women voters to turn out.”

The success of pro-choice Democratic women in the recall elections in Wisconsin and the recent congressional election victories of Democrats Kathy Hochul in NY-26 and Janice Hahn in CA-36 strengthen the argument that by framing the Republican’s proposals as anti-woman on all levels, Democrats can get women voters across the country to turn out in droves.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/mjameson/ Matthew T. Jameson

    “With the assault both on at reproductive rights the state and national level, electing and re-electing women candidates is essential to pushing back against anti-women legislation.”

    It seems like there are really two different issues here: electing more women AND electing candidates who support reproductive rights (and access to services). I agree that both are essential. I disagree that electing women will lead to more protections for reproductive rights. This might be an appropriate assumption if more women in the country supported legal rights and practical access. If you look at all the nationwide polling data, however, women are no more likely than men to support reproductive rights, so framing this as an issue of more women=more rights is really not accurate.

    • beet

      Sorry, I have to disagree. As a pro-choice Democratic man, I can vote to support abortion rights, but I just won’t have the same persuasive power as a woman who speaks out on this same issue. Women like Jackie Speier who spoke of her own abortion before the House. With Republicans putting women like Michele Bachmann up to oppose womens’ rights, we need more Democratic women more than ever to show that Bachmann and Palin don’t speak for all women, or even most women.

      • http://feministing.com/members/mjameson/ Matthew T. Jameson

        Again, we are in agreement that we need more pro-choice women in office! However, if your argument is that a woman is going to be a more effective persuader, I’m not sure there is much evidence for that. Sure, a woman may be able to speak in a more compelling way because of personal experience, but don’t you think that a woman is also going to arouse more knee-jerk, sexist opposition?

  • http://feministing.com/members/cori/ Cori

    Thanks for bringing Wisconsin issues up to the front!

    Just as a point of interest, these five candidates won the primary election for senate seats in the recall election. The actuall recall election will be on August 9th! We still have a ways to go in Wisconsin, but this is at least a hopeful beginning…