Posted by: Donna
There were a surprising number of very important elections going on around the country for an off year, including right here in Phoenix where we elected two kickass progressive Democratic women, Laura Pastor and Kate Gallego, to the City Council. Yay! Gallego’s landslide victory in 8 was expected but most observers in the days prior to the election were predicting that Democrat Justin Johnson would prevail in the District 4 runoff. It was a hard fought campaign that resulted in a somewhat higher turnout (23%) than usual for a municipal race. I’m very pleased that both of my preferred candidates were elected. That hardly ever happens.
Prior to the Phoenix results coming in I watched Virginia returns with increasing panic, as Ken Cuccinelli ran ahead of Terry McAuliffe even as Northern VA results streamed in. But McAuliffe’s comfortable margins in Arlington and Fairfax Counties were enough for him to win by one point. Not the 6-7% lead we’d hoped for but I’ll take it. A couple of observations: The much vaunted gender gap in this race turned out to be a race gap in actuality. As Amanda Marcotte noted in Slate:
The real story here is not men vs. women. It’s white voters vs. black voters and working class vs. middle class voters. The most startling fact of all: The majority of white women, 54 percent, in the state of Virginia voted in favor of Cuccinelli…
…To be clear, the gender gap matters. Without that handful of white women who lean to the left of their male counterparts, McAuliffe wouldn’t have had a chance. But it’s also important to note that the majority of white women clearly don’t care if reproductive rights are stripped away in their state. Perhaps they believe that it won’t affect them, or maybe they’re just not paying attention. The gender gap is an interesting story. But the fact that white women, on average, stay conservative even as conservatives ramp up attacks on women is an even more fascinating one.
As I said on Marcotte’s Facebook page (’cause we’re Facebook friends and all), it is true that many white women aren’t affected by attacks or believe they won’t be. In the latter case in Virginia, they’re not off-base in thinking that since there are plenty of places within a short distance where abortion is legal and easily obtained by a woman of means. So it’s far more important to these women that Republicans get elected in order to keep those lazy, shiftless minorities from getting too much welfare. I wish I weren’t serious about that but I’m basing it on years of interacting with such women.
But the really good news for pro-choicers is that McAuliffe’s victory vindicated those of us who have been begging the Democrats to stop shying away from this issue and instead aggressively go after conservative Republicans for their horrible positions on it. According to exit polls, an unusually high number of Virginia voters, 20%, said abortion was their most important issue and McAuliffe won that group 59-34. I would, however, caution Arizona pro-choicers to modulate our expectations a bit. McAuliffe benefited from being in the DC media market, for one thing, and Cuccinelli was clearly and proudly bonkers on the issue. We’re more apt to have politicians like Jeff Flake, who shrewdly avoid saying stupid things even if they agree completely with Cuccinelli, and news peeps who are all too willing to let them slide with “oh, I’m for exceptions for rape and incest”. Still, Arizona Democratic candidates and pro-choice groups should push this way harder and more loudly than we have been in next year’s midterm. There really is nothing to lose.
Finally, New Jersey. What can I say but quote Crooks and Liars blogger Susie Madrak who said “New Jersey elected a lovable sitcom character”. Who kicked off his Presidential campaign the nanosecond he got reelected. Good job, one third of Democrats who voted for him!
Anyhoo, I might be not be posting the next couple days since I’m at a work conference at the swanky Phoenician resort.
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