Carly Fiorina, From Candidate to VP Pick

This week, Ted Cruz announced that, should he win the Republican nomination for president, Carly Fiorina will be his vice-presidential pick. Not since Ronald Reagan in 1976 has a presidential candidate chosen his or her running mate so early. We know that didn’t work out so well for Reagan in ’76.

So, why do it? Based on the content of both Cruz’s and Fiorina’s speeches yesterday, Donald Trump’s low favorability numbers with women might have something to do with it. Or the fact she’s a California Republican and that state has 172 delegates up for grabs. Or maybe this is another example of the “glass cliff.” There also seems to be this mythical hope that adding a woman to the ticket will neutralize any advantage women candidates on the other side of the aisle might have (although, we know gender isn’t always an advantage for women).

In many ways, having two women candidates in a race highlights the role of gender, rather than neutralizing it. It’s important to remember: no two women candidates are the same and no two women voters are the same.

Since Fiorina first announced her candidacy for president last May, Presidential Gender Watch (PGW) has been watching her impact on gender dynamics in this presidential election. Here are a few of my favorite analysis pieces from PGW on Fiorina:

1. Would Republican Presidential Candidate Senator Ted Cruz Select Carly Fiorina as his Running Mate?

Well, now we know that the answer is “yes.” But this piece delves into the potential drawbacks and advantages for Cruz in naming Fiorina as VP, such as her popularity among social conservatives and potential edge with women voters.

2. Fiorina’s Feminist Crusade?

Donald Trump was the first to comment on Fiorina’s looks, but he wasn’t the last. Remember when the ladies of The View said her face was “like a Halloween mask?” PGW expert Kelly Dittmar unpacks both Fiorina’s response and the history of criticizing the looks of women politicians. Spoiler: It’s been happening for a long time.

3. The Glass Podium

This piece focus on yet another sexist comment from Donald Trump: When he criticized Fiorina for interrupting during a debate, but didn’t criticize any of the other male candidates on stage. Barbara Lee Family Foundation research is used to analyze the gendered environment of the debate stage.

4. What Difference Have Women Made in the Presidential Race? We’re Talking about Feminism.

Discussions about feminism have been integral to this year’s election, and Fiorina contributed to that dialogue- she even wrote about redefining feminism. This piece details how having women on the ballot makes a difference in the national conversation.

Before the 2016 race, the United States had never seen two women vying for the top of their respective party’s ticket at the same time. Fiorina, along with Hillary Clinton, achieved this huge milestone for gender parity in politics. But, we need to move beyond viewing women as a monolithic group. We know having women in the race changes the conversation, but this election cannot just be about changing the conversation—it needs to be about changing the game.