Lessons from past women’s presidential races remain salient for 2016, the first presidential contest featuring prominent women candidates in both major parties. Still front and center: the lack of role models for a woman president; the challenges of raising money; the frequent focus on appearance and image; stereotypes and assumptions that dog even the best-credentialed women.
This week’s On the Bias highlights missed points, masculine norms, and the gender dynamics of vice presidential discussions.
For days after the Republican debate, Donald Trump’s sexist comments, candidates’ and pundits’ reactions to them, and forecasts on how they might influence the trajectory of the presidential race dominated the news. Nearly every presidential candidate was been asked about and/or responded to them, with varying degrees of condemnation and denunciation. Even the most conservative pundits – some of whom have been accused of similarly sexist commentary — called out Trump for crossing the line. But what comes next? As the news media moves beyond Trump’s comments about Megyn Kelly, what’s the second-day (or week) story on gender politics in the 2016 presidential race? Will the collective ire evoked toward Trump’s comments elicit any more substantive conversation about the gender realities they made evident? Here are a few ideas for conversations we should be having to elevate the gender dialogue in the race.
Presidential Gender Watch asked Dr. Niambi Carter, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Howard University and co-author of “Gender and Black Presidential Politics: From Chisholm to Moseley-Braun” (with Paula D. McClain and Michael C. Brady), to weigh in on race, gender, and presidential politics historically and in the 2016 campaign. See our conversation here and share your thoughts in the comments section or on social media.
Donald Trump’s sexist comments in and since last Thursday’s debate are enough to fill this week’s On the Bias post. However, while Trump’s behavior (which we will analyze in greater detail in a forthcoming post) is a clear reminder that we are not operating in a “gender-neutral” world, his comments are not the only evidence of gender dynamics at play in the 2016 race.
Brendan Nyhan in New York Times’ the Upshot makes a smart case for why media coverage of Hillary Clinton’s favorability ratings fails to tell the whole story. It’s true that in past presidential elections, early favorability polls have not predicted the winner, especially not 16 months before voters fill out their ballots. There’s a key difference, however, for Hillary Clinton: Her gender.
When Mitch McConnell told a Kentucky audience that “the gender card alone is not enough” for Hillary Clinton to be elected president, he ignited a debate about (1) what the “gender card” is and (2) how you “play” it. Clinton’s response redefined the concept from McConnell’s narrow claims that it means “arguing ‘vote for me because I’m a woman.’” In her positions and policy-based definition, Republicans play the gender card by promoting policies that work to women’s disadvantage, while Clinton and her colleagues “[fight] for politics that help families get ahead.” But neither definition gets to the heart of gender dynamics in our political institutions and campaigns.