New York Times reporter Adam Nagourney has a long piece (10/29/10) about California Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina, the Republican candidate for Senate. Both are expected to lose on Tuesday, which leaves Nagourney wondering why women aren't more eager to support female politicians. The piece poses a lot of big questions–the fact that both are struggling "raising questions about money, gender and Americans' views of candidates who come out of corporate boardrooms." It is surprising that they are trailing Democrats who are"symbols of liberal policies and nearly as old as talking pictures."
Nagourney gets to gender:
And all this flows into the question of gender. California, of all states, has shown little reluctance to vote for women: Both of its senators are women, Hillary Rodham Clinton won the Democratic primary for president here in 2008 and this is the state that sends Nancy Pelosi to Congress.
So why not Whitman and Fiorina, then? We're told that they exemplify "this new breed of tough female corporate executives looking to shift into public office. This has not always proved to be the best pedigree for a male candidate, and some pollsters and analysts suggested, that it might prove even more complicated for a woman as gender roles continued to evolve."
In the last paragraph, Nagourney finally arrives at the most logical conclusion: Women tend to support Democratic politicians, and perhaps even more so in California, a Democratic-leaning state:
And in a state that might have pioneered the notion of identity politics, these races show that women are the last voters that Ms. Whitman and Ms. Fiorina should be counting on. Women here are much more likely to vote ideology and issues than gender. In Thursday's poll, the last Field Poll that will be done before the election, Mr. Brown led Ms. Whitman among women by 51 percent to 35 percent.
In other words, women vote on the issues, and these candidates–who happen to be women–don't support the kinds of policies most women support. So, yeah, it's kind of a mystery why they're not ahead in the polls.