Women voters were the prize in the 2012 campaign. They turn out in higher numbers than men and it has long been impossible to win an election without them.
And yet, for far too long, candidates seemed to think women’s votes could be gotten with good looks (most recently the Wisconsin ad urging women to “Vote for the cute one,” before that the selection of Dan Quayle because, as one prominent Republican noted at the time “I can’t believe a guy that handsome wouldn’t have some impact”) or a pandering placement on the ticket (hello, Sarah Palin), or by spending a lot of time calling us Mom.
Perhaps last night they finally gotten the message. Or, messages:
You don’t win if you dismiss us. Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” struck a chord because it felt like a rare moment of candor. He seemed to see us as a box to be checked. A former governor who appointed competent, talented women to his cabinet because he saw them as integral and intrinsic to governing rather than tokens of their gender would never have used those words.
You don’t win if you think you know more about our bodies than we do. Especially if you are horrifyingly wrong. Todd Akin proved that when Missouri voters rebuked him for saying that pregnancy rarely results from “legitimate rape” because a woman’s body “has ways to shut the whole thing down.” (It didn’t help that he later explained he was confident he would win because opponent Claire McCaskill did not appear “ladylike” during their September debate, and went on to compare her to a dog.)
You don’t win if you equate rape with anything other than the evil that it is. Defeated Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock knows that now, after saying that pregnancies resulting from rape are “something that God intended to happen.”