Rule #5: There is Gold to be Mined among Professional Women for the Next Generation of Candidates and Campaign Leaders

by johndavis, August 2, 2013

Since 2000, there have been 40 statewide General Election races in North Carolina that came down to a male candidate vs a female candidate. Women won 31 of those 40 races, or 77.5%.

More significant, 24 of those 31 female winners were Democratic women. Only 7 were Republicans. Democratic women have defeated Republican men in 80% of statewide matchups since 2000.

Top 10 Keys for NC Democratic Political Recovery

 

Rule #5: There is Gold to be Mined among Professional Women for the Next Generation of Candidates and Campaign Leaders


July 30, 2013        Vol. VI, No. 15            10:13 am

Democratic Women Defeated GOP Men in 80% of Statewide Matchups

 

With the extinction of the once-powerful base of rural “Yellow Dog Democrats,” and the emergence of politically dominant urban voters, the state Democratic Party must shift its political gold mining operations to metropolitan regions for the next generation of candidates and campaign leaders.

Within these friendly geographical areas, Democrats must focus their political leadership gold mining operations on those constituencies where they are most likely to be successful.

This is where professional women come in.  If I were advising Democrats in North Carolina on how to recover politically, I would tell them that their best hope is women.  Specifically, professional women.

Democrats need strong candidates.  Professional women.  Democrats need campaign money.  Professional women.  Democrats need business leaders.  Professional women.  Democrats need political balance.  Professional women.  Democrats need strength of resolve.  Professional women.

Here in North Carolina, women are registered in greater numbers than men.  Women turn out to vote in higher percentages than men.  Women favor Democrats over Republicans more often than not.  The public policy priorities of women are more likely supported by Democrats.  And, Democratic women have a well-established record of success for winning political campaigns against Republican men.

Since 2000, there have been 40 statewide General Election races in North Carolina that came down to a male candidate vs a female candidate.  Women won 31 of those 40 races, or 77.5%.

More significant, 24 of those 31 female winners were Democratic women.  Only 7 were Republicans.  Democratic women have defeated Republican men in 80% of statewide matchups since 2000.

This report is the fifth in a 10-part series on the keys to political recovery for North Carolina Democrats.  As with the previous series on the keys to Republican political longevity, no state legislator or legislative staff member was interviewed.  All interviews were conducted with the promise of anonymity.  The rules thus far are:

  • Rule #1: If You want to Lead a Purple, Business-Friendly State, You have to Recruit a Purple, Business-Friendly Slate.
  • Rule #2: It's All About Who Does the Asking; Get the Right Person to Ask the Right Person to do the Right Task.
  • Rule #3 Moral Mondays - A Therapeutic Dose of Political Energy Restoring Rhythm to the Heart of the Democratic Party.
  • Rule #4:  Investors will Return to the Party of Bold, Visionary Leaders and Ideas when it has Bold, Visionary Leaders and Ideas.

Today I am adding Rule #5:  There is Gold to be Mined among Professional Women for the Next Generation of Candidates and Campaign Leaders.

Women Nearing Parity in the Professions

 

With the enactment of Title IX in 1972, a law prohibiting gender discrimination in federally supported education programs and activities, female students have gone from having 17% fewer university degrees than men to having 25% more university degrees.  According to the US Census Bureau:

  • In 1960, 65.8% of all university degrees were awarded to men
  • In 2009, only 41.3% of all university degrees were awarded to men.
  • In 2009, 916,000 bachelor’s degrees were earned by women; 685,000 earned by men

Often referred to as the Emancipation Proclamation for women, Title IX has also had a great influence on the number of women with professional degrees from American universities.  Consider these facts:

Thanks to the dramatic growth of women in the professions, women now make up about 1/3 of all doctors and lawyers in America, a number that will continue to grow as women make up half of the law school and medical school student bodies in American universities.

Female doctors rarely run for public office in North Carolina.  However, they are financially capable of helping fund political committees.  Female attorneys are the superstars of Democratic campaigners.

Female attorneys regularly run for statewide offices, including the Council of State races, Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.  Secretary of State Elaine Marshall is an attorney.  So is US Senator Kay Hagan.  Four of the seven members of the Supreme Court of North Carolina are female attorneys, including the Chief Justice (three of the four are Democrats), and six of the fifteen members of the North Carolina Court of Appeals are female attorneys (four of the six are Democrats).

All were elected in statewide campaigns.

Professional Women are Angry with Republicans in Raleigh

 

Today’s news is dominated by stories of professional women who are up in arms over legislative action taken by Republicans in Raleigh during the 2013 session.  It is apparent in news stories about thousands of teachers among the largest crowd to attend Moral Monday protests or news about pro-choice activists holding vigil in front of the governor’s mansion, that a lot of women are mad at Republicans.

Why are so many professional women incensed by Republican legislative action in the 2013 session?  Think about professions other than doctors and lawyers whose budgets got axed by Republicans.

The American Enterprise Institute published a report in September of 2012 showing doctoral and master’s degrees awarded in 2011 by fields of study and gender.  Here are the key findings:

  • 71.3% of Health Sciences doctoral degrees went to women
  • 68.8% of Education doctoral degrees went to women
  • 62.6% of Social, Behavioral Sciences doctoral degrees went to women
  • 60% of Public Administration doctoral degrees went to women

Here are the master’s degrees awarded in 2011 by field of study and gender:

  • 81.3% of Health Sciences master’s degrees went to women
  • 76.8% of Education master’s degrees went to women
  • 76.5% of Public Administration master’s degrees went to women
  • 62.7% of Social, Behavioral Sciences master’s degrees went to women

Education.  Healthcare.  Public services.  Women play key leadership roles in these professions.  Women depend on these professions for their livelihood.

Whose budgets got axed?

Odds are pretty good that many professional women whose programs have lost funding due to budget cuts will be motivated to run in 2014 for the General Assembly.  Others will be motivated to help candidates raise money or contribute to an independent expenditure campaign fund to help Democrats.

Ann Goodnight, long-time education advocate and wife of SAS CEO Jim Goodnight, writes in today’s News & Observer, “I am left stunned by the glaring lack of support for public education.”  The Goodnights are among the wealthiest people in the world.  She could fund a Super PAC at any level.

But what can be accomplished by Democrats in 2014 when Republicans have all of the advantages?

2014 Goals: Protect Hagan, Seize the Courts, Stop the Super Majority

 

The biggest prize for Democrats in 2014 is the U.S. Senate seat featuring incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan from Greensboro.  Hagan is a strong candidate, well-liked by the U.S. Senate establishment.  This translates into national financial resources which can be used for ground game operations like voter registration and turnout.

The second biggest prize for Democrats in 2014 is the state Supreme Court, where four of seven seats are up for grabs including that of the Chief Justice.  There are many seasoned court candidates among Democratic women, and many more female attorneys biding their time for such an opportunity.

Finally, a third prize for Democrats in 2014 would be taking away the super majority status from either the state House or the Senate.  You may not be able to advance the Democratic Party’s agenda without a majority in the state Senate and House, but you can thwart some of the Republican Party's agenda if you take away the veto-proof super majority.

The House is more vulnerable, in part because Speaker Thom Tillis, one of the best political warfare generals around, is abandoning the legislative battlefield for his US Senate race against Kay Hagan.  House seats are also more vulnerable to an underdog challenger because they are less expensive.

North Carolina Senate races would not be a good bet for cash-strapped Democrats in 2014.  Competitive state Senate races are now $1 million campaigns and as sophisticated as congressional races.

The big break for the North Carolina Democratic Party could come as early as 2016 if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee for president.  Clinton’s candidacy would likely result in record high volunteerism and turnout of women in America just like Barack Obama's presidential nomination fueled record high volunteerism and turnout of African Americans in 2008 and 2012.

In my mind, 2016 could be the first opportunity for Democrats to win the majority in the North Carolina House and make headway towards taking back the North Carolina Senate four years later in 2020.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party must work towards the ideological balance needed to appeal to persuadable independent voters.  Moral Monday protesters are important voices for the state Democratic Party, a life-restoring spark of political passion and energy.  However, political recovery will require leaders who can raise money and appeal to moderate voters and business people.

Democrats need strong candidates.  Professional women.  Democrats need campaign money.  Professional women.  Democrats need business leaders.  Professional women.  Democrats need political balance.  Professional women.  Democrats need strength of resolve.  Professional women.

Rule #5: There is Gold to be Mined among Professional Women for the Next Generation of Candidates and Campaign Leaders.

- END –

 Note: I wish to thank Madison McLawhorn, a Senior Communications major at North Carolina State University, for the excellent work she is doing as my student intern.  Madison, from Winterville, is responsible for much of the research for this report, including interviews with professional women and the numbers on women in the professions.

Thank You for Reading the John Davis Political Report! JND SignatureJohn N. Davis, Editor

 

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