Widespread dissatisfaction with the status quo ahead of the upcoming US legislative elections is giving female candidates one of the best chances to significantly boost their ranks within Congress and statehouses since the heralded "Year of the Woman" in 1992.
"I've been calling it the perfect storm for these women," said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. "Before they even open their mouths, it's clear they are not your standard-issue members of Congress -- not white male, blue suit with red tie."
"They look like change, and are seen as agents of change," Walsh said.
The ranks of competitive female candidates this year are lopsidedly Democratic, meaning they could play a key role in determining which party controls Congress and statehouses come January.
Of the 140 women running for the House of Representatives in Tuesday's elections, for example, 98 are Democrats. On the Senate side, 12 women are running, eight of them Democrats. The party is particularly hopeful for female candidates in two Senate races: Amy Klobuchar is favored to win a Minnesota seat held by retiring Democrat Mark Dayton, and Claire McCaskill is running neck-and-neck with Republican Senator Jim Talent in Missouri.
Record numbers of women now serve in the House (67) and Senate (14).
In the 36 governor's races this year, 10 women are running, half of them incumbents and half of them Democrats. There are currently eight female governors, six of them Democrats.
In state legislative races, a record 2,431 female candidates are running this year, of whom 1,563 are Democrats. The previous record of 2,375 was set in 1992, but the numbers of female candidates seemed to hit a plateau after that.
Dennis Simon, a Southern Methodist University professor who studies women in politics, said this year's climate is tailor-made for female candidates.
Dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq may make voters more inclined to identify with women, seeing them as mothers whose children may be sent to war. And questions about inside-the-Beltway ethics may benefit female candidates as well, Simon said.
But even with all that female candidates have going for them this year, they are unlikely to match the gains posted in 1992, when 22 new women were added to Congress, three in the Senate and 19 in the House. In that year, hearings on the Supreme Court nomination of Clarence Thomas drew attention to the dominance of men in the Senate, and a large number of open House seats offered newcomers a shot at breaking in.
There are far fewer open seats now because of congressional redistricting. And a number of female Republican House members are vulnerable this year, which could offset Democratic gains by female candidates.
In the current House, 43 of the women are Democrats and 24 are Republicans. In the Senate, nine women are Democrats and five are Republicans.
Walsh believes Congress could gain at least 10 women, but some Democratic partisans think the stars are aligned for far more.
"This is exactly the year that we've been working toward," said Karen White, political director of Emily's List, which backs Democratic women who support the right to abortion.
For two decades, the group has recruited, trained and financed female candidates for Congress as well as for state and local offices. Now, White says, many of the women they cultivated early in their political careers are ready to make the leap to Congress.
"We've got this bench of women who have been ready to run when the time came, and here we are," White said.
The group thinks it can add 10 to 15 seats in the House, she said.
A swing of 15 seats to the Democrats is exactly the margin needed to shift control of the House from the Republicans.
Tara Wall, a Republican National Committee spokeswoman, dismisses speculation that a number of Republican women House members may be in trouble, saying, "History bears out that incumbents remain in place."
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
‘LIKE A CASSANDRA’: Chinese residents of Prato went into self-imposed lockdown and warned their Italian neighbors about what was coming, but were ignored In the storm of infection and death sweeping Italy, one big community stands out to health officials as remarkably unscathed — the 50,000 ethnic Chinese who live in the town of Prato. Two months ago, the country’s Chinese residents were the target of what Amnesty International described as shameful discrimination, the butt of insults and violent attacks by people who feared that they would spread the coronavirus through Italy. However, in the Tuscan town of Prato, home to Italy’s single biggest Chinese community, the opposite has been true. Once scapegoats, they are now held up by authorities as a model for early,