The “Elephant” in Political Parties

Perhaps because I have a degree in economics and spent roughly twenty years in politics, I tend to look at numbers, and what they suggest about people… and about political parties.

I’ve felt for a long time that Republican politicians and Republican voters are very uneasy about women in politics. Certainly, Donald Trump doesn’t care much for women, and he certainly doesn’t respect them, but it’s definitely not hurting him among Republican voters.

Going into the recent Iowa caucus, polls suggested that Nikki Haley would get around 22-24 percent of the vote. But she only got 19 percent, a shift of almost five percent overnight, when nothing else changed. My own personal feeling is that nothing did change, but that three to five percent of the Republican voters could say they favored Haley, but when it came to voting, they couldn’t do it, but they never wanted to admit it.

Women in the U.S. have had the vote for just over a hundred years, but today only thirty percent of the members of the U.S. House are women. But when you break those numbers down, they get really interesting, because 46% (almost half) of the Democratic representatives are women, while only 14% of the Republican representatives are women.

In the Senate, 33% of the Democratic senators are women, but only 16% of the Republican senators are.

Why might that be?

Could it just be that Republicans just don’t like women in public office?

Those statistics might just explain a lot, including much of the support for Donald Trump, but I haven’t seen any poll or study that addresses this aspect of political parties, possibly because men don’t want to address it directly… and women in politics can’t, not without alienating too many male voters.

13 thoughts on “The “Elephant” in Political Parties”

  1. Grey says:

    I love a good Republican panel on women’s health that is comprised of old, white men.*


  2. Wren Jackson says:

    Essentially. A lot of people can’t handle the concept of women in power. How many voted not for Trump in 2016 but against Hillary?

    Honestly I think you covered it very well with Fall of Angel’s, The Chaos Balance and Armscommander. What kind of people did Ryba, Arlyn and Saryn have to be to accomplish their goals. Realistically only one of the three was able to be anything approaching gentle or non-aggresivr and it was because she was seen as her partner’s support vs his equal.

  3. Bill says:

    There is a small percentage of people in the US whose world view will not allow certain people to be in power. These people can’t/won’t vote against their world view. You can see it in the Georgia state results over the last several elections. While the percentage isn’t large, it is enough to change the outcome of an election. Though in Iowa I mention that many of the saner people decided to stay home in the bitter cold.

    Though on better news – Over-Caption is now available for pre-order on Amazon and I am sure elsewhere!

  4. Tom says:

    “Why might that be?”

    It seems to me that most if not all US Congress people have a degree in Law. Some are “Political Scientists”. So I looked at higher education numbers in the US.

    US Law Schools: In 2022, 56% of applicants were women, while 42% were men. In addition, 2% of the group identified as having a different gender, according to June 7, 2023 National Jurist, News, PreLaw, preLaw news. In terms of law school acceptance rates, women had a 68% rate while men had a 71% rate. The report did not include an admissions rate for people who identify as another gender.

    US Political Scientists: More men than women are interested in becoming political scientists at a ratio of 1.58 to 1 (Men (61%) Women (39%)). However the actual gender mix of active Political Scientists for 2024 is 56% are female and 44% are male.

    Bias for one and quality for the other?

    So perhaps the question of “why” is complicated.

  5. Hanneke says:

    There’s a link between the mindset of wanting to control women and the conservative mindset, making misogyny a more attractive strategy for a rightwing political party to appeal to voters.

    Though it’s mostly been considered inappropriate for people in public life to be openly anti-women since women got the right to vote, the affirmation from public figures for misogynistic standpoints since Trump’s first campaign has brought that sentiment back into the public discourse, and has emboldened people to express that, including in their votes.

    Authoritarians in modern democracies often lean on misogyny to grow their support, and misogyny is known to act as a gateway to both right-wing and religious extremism (you can search for those papers).

    The Republicans have been leaning into an anti-women stance for decades, trying to distract from their policies causing misery to ordinary people and woo male voters who’d like to blame an easy scapegoat for their problems (and boost their own egos at the same time); and travelling farther to the right all that time. It’s not surprising to see that have an effect.

    It’s why I think running a female Democrat candidate for president was a mistake in 2016, and will be counterproductive for the next few cycles as well – even when the female candidate is better qualified than a male opponent, she will start a few points in the negative for losing those reactionary anti-women-having-power voters.
    The hope she would energise enough women to come out and vote for her, to counterweight that loss, proved futile in Hilary Clinton’s run; though maybe the backlash against the loss of bodily autonomy unleashed by Trump-appointed judges might add enough impetus to work. I can understand them not wanting to risk it again, when it’s this inportant that Trump doesn’t win again.

    Even though women have shown they can be good and highly effective leaders in other countries, the USA is as a whole is, as far as I can see, not ready for that step yet. Mostly because it doesn’t have an effective one-person-one-vote electoral system; its Electoral College and Senate system, including the gerrymandering of voting districts, is weighted firmly towards the conservative rural voters.

    1. KevinJ says:

      You make excellent points, and I agree.

      I just wanted to add that Hilary Clinton was a terrible choice for a candidate, because she had enough baggage for a freight train. Obviously all the misogynists, reactionaries and “deplorables” would vote against her anyway just because of her gender. But she’d alienated a lot of people as First Lady. (E.g., “vast right-wing conspiracy.”)

      Would she have been a better prez than Trump? Sure – even my dog would have. But the Democrats, as they too often do, managed to pick a candidate who would turn away a lot of voters. (E.g., Dukakis.)

  6. Tom says:

    The usual explanation why women are different from men in how they seek their place in society:,may%20bring%20them%20personal%20happiness.

    Perhaps an explanation why we use the word misogyny more often than not since the 1960’s and 1970’s?,for%20housework%20and%20child%20rearing.%20.

    Is it really just fear of competition?

    Or are we just having another societal adjustment as (in the 1960’s and 1970’s) our interpersonal morals and ethics change?

  7. Guy Thomas says:

    I don’t find it all that surprising to learn that Republican voters shy away from women candidates. Oddly to me, it seems many female Republican voters feel that way as well. To be expected I suppose considering the rising Christian Nationalism movement taking over large segments of the Republican base with the belief that women should be subservient to male authority. The US is a misogynistic society. We can’t even pass the Equal Rights Amendment which should have easily been done long ago (which was also shot down by conservatives).

  8. R. Hamilton says:

    A genuinely conservative (tempered with a bit of libertarianism) female who was neither statist nor corporatist would tend to be far better accepted by many Republicans than a RINO or near RINO. Not to say there aren’t a few Republicans who don’t want women having power, but I’m sure there are some (if less) Democrats and others of that mindset too. I think most Republicans would support whoever’s policies they most like, but the party’s outreach is often weak.

    There have been strong conservative women, even if they’re scarce as candidates. At least one has shown no interest in running, sadly.

    If a willing candidate of a group not previously reaching an office is (in my view) at least as qualified as other candidates, I’d support them (in the hopes of putting to rest the notion that the group was excluded, although a variety of backgrounds and experiences might have some value of its own); but I would not support anyone simply for their race/gender/etc.

    1. Darcherd says:

      I would submit that Liz Cheney qualifies eminently as a genuine conservative with small government, libertarian leanings. But of course, since she dared to criticize and even actively oppose the Republicans’ new God on Earth, she was politically killed. Which sort of proves LEM’s point.

      1. R. Hamilton says:

        Liz Cheney is a corporatist RINO, not very conservative and not remotely libertarian. That sort are the part of the Republican party that is indistinguishable from such few moderate Democrats as still exist. And while I don’t have a huge problem with Bush or Cheney connections as individuals, they’re definitely too institutional. The institutions need to be challenged to be lean and minimalist, not grown. And I’m sick of political families, too. Don’t want any more Bushes, Clintons, Obamas, Cheneys. Don’t want one of Trump’s offspring to run one day, either.

        I suspect that Nikki Haley while not that bad would end up not much better.

        Excmples I’d like better: Condoleezza Rice, or Jeane Kirkpatrick brought back from the dead, or if Margaret Thatcher had been a US citizen. A hawk, but not the forever war sort.

  9. Daniel O'Brien says:

    Or is gender something people fixate on when nearly every office and job has had women at the helm? We have had women governors, senators, representatives, CEO, Authors, Commentators, etc,. No president yet but in that case there are many factors that lead to a decision of one’s vote. It would be my contention that the playing fields are generally as level as they can be. To fuss about certain actors in politics being misogynistic does not mean that the wide spread atmosphere is not amenable to female leadership, at whatever level.

    Additionally, and perhaps more directly in reference to your statement, I believe that the left and right hold different values. Women are less likely to in politics for many reasons and one of them may be that family interests are of more importance to a lot of women in the republican right. It does not have to be a nefarious cause. GOP women voters are also in that voting statistic and I think they have the authority also to vote for the candidate of their choice regardless of gender.
    More men may get into GOP politics and therefore perhaps more good candidates are men. That isn’t bad as long as the candidates are good.
    I don’t know. Just came across this blog and thought I’d mention a few things on the fly.
    I enjoy your books.

    1. Postagoras says:

      Well, Daniel O’Brien, it sounds to me like you want to defend Republicans from not liking the idea of women in office. I’m sorry if it makes you feel bad.

      I agree that “the left and right hold different values.” But your “contention that the playing fields are generally as level as they can be” is fantasy. The playing field is as level as conservative white males want it to be, which is not level, but tilted in their direction.

      It’s not nefarious, it’s just plain old selfishness.

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