- Ellen R. Shaffer
On Tuesday a fierce, medieval patriarchy, lavishly financed by corporations, lost out to our American values of democracy, independence, fairness, progress, innovation and pragmatism.
Turns out that rape is pretty unpopular with quite a wide swath of voters. In addition to women’s historic gains in representation, voters from across the spectrum defeated the two Senate candidates most visibly identified with attacks on women and on reproductive health care. And Floridians defeated a ballot measure that would outlaw public funding for abortions. The results suggest that healthy doses of coalition-building and organizing 101 will make a difference going forward, even if Tea Party leaders in the majority-Republican House and many state houses choose to continue attacks on birth control, abortion and health care providers like Planned Parenthood.
While the opposition was most pronounced among women, even Republicans who voted for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney were sufficiently unenthusiastic about two Senate candidates that the voters defeated both Todd Akin of Missouri, who suggested a “legitimate” rape would lead a woman’s body to “automatically shut down” the possibility of a pregnancy; and Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdoch, who intoned that a pregnancy resulting from rape was God’s will, and opposed the mother’s right to an abortion.
InMissouri, a disproportionate turnout by women massively deserted Akin led the charge, he was also rejected by Romney voters who were men, white, higher income, and independents. The relatively low percentage of black voters stuck with both President Obama and incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill:
MISSOURI – Senator Claire McCaskill vs. Todd Akin for U.S. Senate
|Yes on McCaskill||Yes on Akin||Share of voters||Yes on Romney||Yes on Obama|
Romney also won inIndiana. In contrast withMissouri, turnout was even between men and women, and higher among higher income residents and suburban voters. Women voted against Mourdoch by 12 points in the Senate race, while men split evenly, 47% to 47%, though voting for Romney by 17 points. Younger and lower income voters went for Donnelly, but even voters over $50,000 went for Mourdoch by only 3 points, despite the 20% lead for Romney.
INDIANA – Joe Donnelly vs. Richard Mourdoch for U.S. Senate
|Yes on Donnelly||Yes on Mourdoch||Share of voters||Yes on Romney||Yes on Obama|
analysis based on exit polls: http://elections.nytimes.com/2012/results/president/exit-polls
The 113th Congress will have 20 female senators, the most ever in U.S. history, up from 17 presently.
Joining the Senate will be Democrats Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Republican Deb Fischer (Neb.). 6 Democratic women were reelected: Sens. Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.) and Debbie Stabenow (Mich.).
Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) lost her Senate race to incumbent Dean Heller.
Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) are both retiring, meaning the next Congress will have just four female Republican senators.
In the US House, women clinched a record 77 seats, a tally that could rise as high as 81 when counts are completed; when the 113th Congress convenes it will include the largest class of female newcomers since 1992.
South Carolina elected a woman to its state Senate, leaving no state legislative chamber without a woman.
In New Hampshire, joining New Hampshire Senate incumbents Jeanne Shaheen (D) and Kelly Ayotte (R) are three newly elected women: Gov. Maggie Hassan (D), who will be the only female Democratic governor in 2013, and Reps. Carol Shea-Porter (D) and Ann McLane Kuster (D).