North Carolina: Best Place for Women Candidates Unless Hillary Clinton Tops the Ballot

by johndavis, April 5, 2017

North Carolina: Best Place for Women Candidates Unless Hillary Clinton Tops the Ballot April 5, 2017        Vol. X, No. 3        2:13 pm Worst Year for Women: 75%-win record; 33% in 2016 In 1996, Elaine Marshall, a Democrat from Lillington, became North Carolina’s first woman elected to a statewide executive office.  Marshall defeated Richard Petty, “The
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North Carolina: Best Place for Women Candidates Unless Hillary Clinton Tops the Ballot

April 5, 2017        Vol. X, No. 3        2:13 pm

Worst Year for Women: 75%-win record; 33% in 2016

In 1996, Elaine Marshall, a Democrat from Lillington, became North Carolina’s first woman elected to a statewide executive office.  Marshall defeated Richard Petty, “The King” of NASCAR, in the race for Secretary of State.  Thus, began the modern era for women candidates running in statewide races in North Carolina.

From 1996 to 2014, 48 statewide general election races in North Carolina featured women running against men.  Women won 36 of the 48 statewide races, for a winning percentage of 75%.

In 2016, there were 9 statewide races featuring women running against men, including the presidential race between GOP nominee Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton.  Only 3 of the 9 women won, a dismal 33%, bringing the overall winning percentage since 1996 to 68%.

North Carolina is one of the best states in the country for women candidates.  Since 1996, the state has distinguished itself in the following ways:

  • North Carolina’s first woman governor (Beverly Perdue, 2009-2013) presided over a female-majority Council of State elected statewide including Secretary of State, State Treasurer, Auditor, Commissioner of Labor, and Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • North Carolina has had a female-majority Supreme Court, elected statewide, that included a female Chief Justice (Sarah Parker, 2006-2014)
  • North Carolina Court of Appeals, elected statewide, led by Chief Judge Linda McGee, has had a female majority, and a rare three-judge panel of African American women
  • North Carolina has elected two female U.S. Senators elected statewide (Dole & Hagan)

Two reasons women do so well in North Carolina in races against men is that women outnumber men on the voter registration rolls and women turn out in higher percentages than men.

  • Registered voters 4/1/2017: 3,564,122 women (54%); 3,017,032 men (46%)
  • Turnout: 486,000 more women than men in 2012; 515,000 more women in 2016

You would think with those two advantages, and with Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket with the potential of becoming the first women elected president of the United States, that all women candidates would have had an advantage in races with men.

But in 2016, gender was not nearly as important to conservative women as ideology and party.  In other words, 2016 was not a “War on Women” election, it was a war among women for partisan and ideological advantage.

In North Carolina, that meant that Republican and Republican-leaning women, who turned out in higher numbers than Democratic and Democratic-leaning women, voted Republican all the way up and down the ballot.

That’s why all 6 women who lost, of the 9 who ran against men, were Democrats.

War Among Women NOT War on Women

The “War on Women” is a failed Democratic political strategy because it is a false narrative.  There was no war on women in 2016, but there was a war among women.

Socially conservative, pro-life women versus socially liberal, pro-choice women, both fighting for a friendly U.S. Supreme Court.

Women who remember the Equal Rights Amendment battle as if it were yesterday versus women who learned about the Equal Rights Amendment in the same American History class that taught them about the early-20th century Suffragettes and their fight for the right to vote.

Democratic-leaning urban women, rich and poor, versus Republican-leaning suburban and rural women, rich and poor.  Big government women versus the-government-that-governs-least-women.

College-educated women versus noncollege-educated women.  Married versus single women.

Professional moms who spend the day as executives in the private-sector-public-sector workplace with kids in daycare versus professional moms who spend the day at home with their kids as the chief executive officer of their family.

Married women with gainfully employed husbands or partners versus married women with husbands or partners who cannot find a job that provides them respect and recognition.

Religious right women versus religious left women.

It was not a war on women in 2016 that kept Hillary Clinton from becoming the first female U.S. President.  It was a war among women.

Over time, women sorted themselves into ideologically allied coalitions that included men: conservative women and their male allies versus liberal women and their male allies.

In the end, conservative women and their allies defeated liberal women and their allies because the conservative coalition was more enthusiastic about turning out to vote.

Apathy Among Democrats Cost Clinton the Presidency

Turnout is driven mostly by enthusiasm for the candidate and the campaign message.  In 2016, too many Democrats simply had a hard time getting enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton.

Gary Pearce, lifelong loyal Democrat and advisor to Governor Jim Hunt (author of Jim Hunt, A Biography), wrote on April 27, 2016, in his Talking about Politics blog:

  • “Even Democrats who believe she is extraordinarily well qualified to be President see the depth of the distrust and sheer hatred she generates.” 
  • “She bears the Clintonian mantle of too many scandals, too much what-the-definition-of-is-is and too much eagerness to grab the money.”

On September 8, 2016, Pearce wrote about Hillary Clinton’s “suspicious nature, her penchant for secrecy and her ill-concealed hostility to the media.”  He also noted, “Since 1992, the Clintons have stuck to a strategy of defiance and stonewalling.”

Michael Regan, a producer with PBS NewsHour, said on November 10, 2016, “Apathy toward Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, especially among the Democratic base,” is what cost her the election.

That apathy among Democrats included Democratic and Democratic-leaning women.

Clare Malone, writing for FiveThirtyEight, concluded, “Although Clinton didn’t outright lose women, their relatively anemic support for her in key states [Florida’s 4-point margin] played a role in her Electoral College demise.”

North Carolina was one of the key swing states where conservative women turned out in greater numbers than Democratic and Democratic leaning women, leading to Hillary Clinton’s Electoral College demise.

North Carolina’s Turnout: Democrats Never Got Excited about Clinton

In the November 2016 General Election, per an analysis of 2016 state turnout conducted by Democracy North Carolina, Republican women turned out at 75% while only 71% of Democratic women turned out.  Republican men were 75% compared to only 65% of Democratic men.

In 2016, 72% of white voters turned out compared to only 64% of black voters.

The highest percent turnout in 2008 and 2012 was African-American women, leading the state with 77% in 2008.  In 2016, only 70% of black women voted.  (White women 2016, 72%.)

In both 2008 and 2012, overall African-American turnout was greater than white turnout, a first in state history.  Only 57% of African-American male voters turned out to vote in 2016.

Did black men fail to turn out for Hillary Clinton because they are misogynists?  Sexists?  Or was it that many African-American men thought that things would be a lot better for them economically after eight years of the first black president, but they weren't.

Black rapper Sean “P.Diddy” Combs, appearing with Al Sharpton on MSNBC’s PoliticsNation last September, said that blacks should “hold their vote” for Clinton, because black’s “got shortchanged” under Obama.  “I don’t believe any of them,” said Combs.

Young Democrats and Democrat-leaning young voters never got excited about the presidential campaign after Bernie Sanders took his bow.  Again, per Democracy North Carolina, nearly half (47%) of 18 to 25-year-olds did not vote in 2016.  In 2008, 60% of the youngest voters turned out enthusiastically for Barack Obama.

Here's the cruel political reality: it does not matter if your advantage among young voters is a lopsided 58%-to-36% (Clinton’s advantage), if only half of them bother to go vote.

Meanwhile, 78% of the 66-year-old and up voters voted.  They backed Trump 60% to 37%.

Turnout is how you win.  Turnout is how you lose.

North Carolina is still one of the best states in the country for women candidates running against men in statewide races.  Women have defeated men 68% of the time in the 57 races since 1996 that came down to a male candidate versus a female candidate in the General Election.

The greatest irony of 2016 is that Hillary Clinton’s failure to inspire Democrats, including women, to turn out and elect her as the first woman president of the United States, along with her inability to discourage Republican women from turning out for Donald Trump, led to the worst year for women running statewide in North Carolina in the modern era.  Well, Democrat women.

In the end, it was not a war on women that kept Hillary Clinton from becoming the first female U.S. President.  It was a war among women, conservative women and their allies who defeated liberal women and their allies because the conservative coalition was more enthusiastic about turning out to vote.

 

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