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What We Learned From the 2012 Election

By November 8, 2012

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Women 2012 Election

During this election cycle, we were told repeatedly that women were not interested in reproductive rights, health care issues, contraceptive coverage or fair pay. We were told that the most important concern of women was the economy, stupid.

Funny how women don't listen to what they're told to believe.

Women put Barack Obama over the top and elected a record-breaking number of women to the Senate because of several key factors. Republican men would do well to heed these points:

We were disgusted by your attitude toward rape. We know that rape is not a subject to be taken lightly, and couldn't understand why you didn't get it. In fact, every time one of you uttered an ignorant remark about rape, we thought it couldn't get worse... and it did. The good news: every single candidate who made a stupid rape/pregnancy/abortion remark lost. Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, Paul Ryan all went down in defeat. These candidates were ahead in the polls until they uttered comments laced with ignorance and insensitivity; even worse, they refused to apologize for their remarks. In exit polls, when women voters were asked what influenced their vote, an overwhelming majority said they were made uncomfortable by these remarks.

We'll elect women when qualified candidates are put before us. If you think that we'll vote for a pit bull with lipstick, you're wrong. A smart substantive female candidate will trump a pretty, vapid one every time. We want more Elizabeth Warrens and fewer Sarah Palins. This year saw the most female candidates ever running for Congress and many of them won. A record number will enter the Senate in 2013 including Deb Fischer (Nebraska), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Tammy Baldwin (Wisconsin) who is the nation's first openly gay Senator, and Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts).

We'll come out and vote in droves when we feel threatened. Deny it all you want, but we know when we're being attacked and our hard-won rights are being trampled. There *is* a war against women, and it's white Republican men who are on the offense. If you thought we were going to "go gentle into that good night," you were sadly mistaken. As you now realize, we raged, raged against your misogyny on Election Night (apologies to Dylan Thomas) and summarily rejected those who went after us. The pen is mightier than the sword, but the voting booth is the best revenge of all.

We are the majority of voters. More women than men came out to vote this year, and typically that's the case. And a greater percentage of women who are eligible to vote came out to the polls than the the percentage of men who are eligible to vote.

We are growing. Hear us roar. While the backbone of the GOP -- white males -- are on the decline, the group least likely to vote for Republican candidates( like Romney) is the group that's growing the fastest. Unmarried women supported Barack Obama in the greatest numbers (68% voted for him) and as the largest segment of the rising American electorate (RAE), we are already changing the face of the "average" American voter. Unmarried women comprise 37% of the RAE -- a group that has grown 19% in the past decade.

The take-home message is this: Don't threaten us. Don't tell us what to do. Don't assume you can control us. When our back is against the wall, that's when we come into our power.

You don't have to be a fan of the film Dirty Dancing to recognize that famous line uttered by Patrick Swayze: "Nobody puts Baby in the corner." Well, during the months leading up to the 2012 election, there were many, many attempts to put us in the corner. And just like the iconic Baby who defied her parents along with every conventional expectation of how she should behave, we also refused to stay in that corner.

On Election Night 2012, despite what we were told to believe, we showed our would-be handlers that it wasn't the economy, stupid. It was all about ensuring that our rights as women were maintained and protected. Even though they tried to keep us down, we got up and danced.

Photo Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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November 9, 2012 at 12:12 am
(1) grant says:

Right on!!!!

November 9, 2012 at 11:01 am
(2) Christine says:

Great article! One of the happiest days in my life was the 7th of Nov when the final count was delivered in New Hampshire, my home state. We brought in Obama, but most importantly, the ladies cleaned house. Our entire government delegation is all female, and all but one are Democrats. Both senators and both representatives. The governor of the state is a woman and a Democrat. It’s a first in the nation.

So, ladies, it can be done. Get out the brooms and the vote and then say, “Buh-bye!!”

November 9, 2012 at 11:14 am
(3) David Olson says:

Hogwash!! No Republican threatened women’s rights! The simple truth is that Obama had the most dismal Presidential record in history and was faced with certain ouster. He could not run on his disasterous 4 years, remind what brilliant accomplishments he had which did not violate the Constitution. So, what did he do…he created a boogeyman. In the Stephenafalus debate Romney was asked about taking away women’s contraception. He was stunned by the question because no one ever suggested, implied or even thought about the subject. But this became the first shot aimed at women by the President’s re-election committee and sycaphantic media. Suddenly Romeny and the Republicans who happen to be pro-life became the anti-Christ, and single women by the droves bought this tripe hook line and sinker. Yes they were duped. it was intentional. Second, the President went to war with the Latinos. He and his minions got the Republicans to say that yes, we need to secure our borders and control immigration. Only an idiot would not recognize that immigration unchained is destroying our society. Third, he went after gays not seeking to improve their lives, but rather attacking the framework of our society by not supporting the Defense of Marriage act which he defended when he ran in 2008. The Republicans were coaxed into discussions where Democrats knew they could probably get some unsuspecting candidate to make a foolish comment. So the bottom line is that women may claim you can’t put “Baby in a corner,” but guess what Obama did it and you fell for it. So you are saying that instead of being responsible for yourself you have the right to reach into your neighbors pocket to pay for things like contraception. This violates the Constituin and proves once again that giving women the vote was not necessarily a smart idea.

November 9, 2012 at 10:00 pm
(4) Mir Quasem says:

Brilliant.This is a well thought analysis.the election result confirmed that women can not be lagged behind by lame excuses.

November 10, 2012 at 2:49 am
(5) Marcia Purse says:

David Olson – you’re a white male, right? (Besides being illiterate.)

Linda – excellent essay. Thank you.

November 10, 2012 at 1:32 pm
(6) Veronica says:

Note to Akin, Mourdock, and Ryan: Making unfounded, ignorant, and pseudo-scientific remarks about women’s bodies and rape will NOT win you votes. And to David Olson: Yes, they did threaten women’s rights. THAT’S why they were voted out. And I’m glad they were!

November 12, 2012 at 9:37 am
(7) Kerri says:

David, you are so wrong. I had lost all respect for republicans even before Romney won the nomination. I had been a registered independent all my adult life until this election. I watched a republican debate where one candidate was asked if someone didn’t have insurance should he/she be left to die and they said yes. People in the audience even clapped at this answer. That was when I decided to switch my affiliation to democrat so I could vote in the primaries. Never again will I vote republican for any office, local or national.

November 14, 2012 at 12:54 pm
(8) AnneCaroline says:

Oh, David, you are going to have to up your game if you want to hang with this crowd of brilliant women!

Linda, I was ecstatic to find a “share” button on today’s post.

Love, love, love the dance analogy/reference. I’m doing a “yippee, Skippy!” dance over Ohio Rep. Nina Turner’s “GOP: Get Out of my Panties” T-shirt protest. . .she’s the restrict men’s access to Viagra feminist.

November 14, 2012 at 5:44 pm
(9) Deborah says:

David – YOU are so right.

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