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Who Won Over Women In The Midterms?

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Who Won Over Women In The Midterms?

Politics

Who Won Over Women In The Midterms?

Who Won Over Women In The Midterms?

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Both Democrats and Republicans relied on women both at the polls and on the ticket in this week's midterm election. NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates talks to Mara Liasson about how female candidates fared.

KAREN GRIGSBY BATES, HOST:

Both Democrats and Republicans relied on women to turn out and vote in this week's midterm election. And there were quite a few female candidates running, as well. NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson is here with all the highlights. Hi, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi, how you doing?

GRIGSBY BATES: I'm good. I'm sure you're winding down from a crazy week. Last week, we talked on the show about how important female voters were to both parties in this midterm election. So, how did the women's vote break down on Tuesday?

LIASSON: Well, Democrats still won the women's vote, but they didn't win it by enough to offset the amount by which Republicans won the male vote. So the gender gap is still alive, but it's just not working in a midterm election for Democrats as much as it has in a presidential election. One thing that we did notice is while the Democrats won the women's group vote this time by a couple of points, in 2010, there was no gender gap - 49, 49, the women's votes split. So I guess Democrats can take some solace. They won the women's vote a little bit, but it wasn't enough.

GRIGSBY BATES: What about female candidates? How did they make out?

LIASSON: Well, it was a very mixed picture. Democrats like Jeanne Shaheen hung on. And Republicans elected some new Democratic female senators - Shelley Moore Capito in West Virginia, Joni Ernst in Iowa. But in North Carolina, Kay Hagan lost. And Mary Landrieu from Louisiana is heading to a runoff where she is expected to lose.

GRIGSBY BATES: Wow. So looking forward, Mara, to the 2016 election, obviously all eyes now are on Hillary Clinton when it comes to female candidates. But after Tuesday's election, I'm wondering if there are other women to watch, maybe other stars that we haven't really seen yet.

LIASSON: Well, even though women are not represented in Congress anywhere near their percentage of the population, there are a lot of women to watch. Obviously, Mia Love becomes the first black female Republican elected to the House. She's from Utah. She's someone to watch.

Susana Martinez, the governor of New Mexico, Republican, Hispanic. She won a very big reelection victory. She's often talked about as a potential vice presidential candidate on the Republican ticket next time. And then Nikki Haley in South Carolina is always a Republican woman to watch. And on the Democratic side, obviously Hillary Clinton is the numero uno female potential candidate. But Elizabeth Warren is someone that is a huge star with the Democratic base. And she's someone to watch, too.

GRIGSBY BATES: I wonder, finally, whether women's issues figured into any of these elections very much. You know, in earlier elections, there was a lot of emphasis on women's issues. I wonder if female candidates felt it helped or hurt to go that route this time around or whether it was maybe just irrelevant.

LIASSON: Well, what's really interesting is that the Democrats have been using a playbook called the War on Women. They've been going after Republicans in previous election cycles with much success for being on the wrong side of women's issues like healthcare and reproductive rights.

This time it didn't seem to work as well. You had Mark Udall, in Colorado, really building his campaign around key women's issues, around contraception, accusing his opponent of wanting to do away with some forms of contraception. And there was a sense in Colorado that he focused on it too much to the exclusion of other issues. And one reporter there called him Mark Uterus. And the Denver Post decided not to endorse him because they said he'd run an obnoxious one-issue campaign.

So I think the important lesson for Democrats is that all of those women's issues, especially the reproductive rights issues, have to be embedded in a larger message about women's economic empowerment. And that's something that I think that you'll see them do a little bit better next time.

GRIGSBY BATES: NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Thanks, Mara.

LIASSON: Thank you.

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