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Columns

The GOP's Woman Problem

November 15, 2018 - 7:00am

It has been long rumored that the Republican Party has a woman problem, so much so that a few years ago GOP congressmen sent aides to classes on how to talk to and about women.

Republicans didn't learn much. Their articulation issues just got much worse, and there's a name for it: Donald Trump. In addition to his many dubious accomplishments, Trump has succeeded in nearly purging Republican women from the House of Representatives.

If this was supposed to be the year of the woman, it has been the year only of Democratic women. The blue wave washed away a significant number of strong female candidates on the GOP side, both incumbents and newcomers, likely leaving just 13, down from 23. (Although three races were still pending Tuesday, Republicans had little hope that their candidates would win in two of them.)

According to Cook Political Report's Dave Wasserman, of the projected 31 members of the rising Republican freshman class, only one is a woman, compared with the Democrats' projected freshman class of 61, of which 35 are women. Which means the Republican House just became a lot more of what it didn't need to be -- more male.

Democratic women cleaned house in suburban districts. With just over a dozen women, this also means several committees and subcommittees will have no Republican women on them.

Trump, naturally, has blamed Republican losses on some candidates' failure to accept his "embrace." At least they weren't asked to kiss his ring, yet. In post-election remarks last week, the president mocked those who "lost" their races, naming, among others, Utah Rep. Mia Love (who hasn't officially lost yet), and Virginia Rep. Barbara Comstock.

Of Love, he ickily said she "gave me no love. And she lost. Too bad. Sorry about that Mia." For the record, votes were still being counted as Trump was making these remarks. Love waited until Election Day to use a phone recording he had made for her campaign.

Comstock, who won in 2016 in a district that went for Hillary Clinton, inarguably lost this time because of the president. Her opponent, Democrat Jennifer Wexton, waged her campaign primarily on an anti-Trump platform.

If anything, Love and Comstock's good judgment probably made their races closer than they otherwise would've been. Let there be no doubt, the midterms were about one thing -- Trump -- and Republican losses should be chalked up to him. He owns this election.

Embracing the president was by no means a fast track to victory. In some cases, when candidates did accept Trump's love, they might as well have received the kiss of death, too. Many lost, anyway. Rep. Martha McSally, a former fighter pilot (and dog lover), wore Trump like a medal of honor in Arizona, yet lost to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in their Senate race. Although Sinema's was a squeeze-by victory, as so many races were, Trump was plainly no help to her opponent.

The House seat McSally relinquished to run for the Senate also went to a Democrat -- former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick.

Republican men, too, suffered losses after accepting, presumably, a man-hug from Trump. Rep. Dave Brat lost in Central Virginia; Kris Kobach, who was endorsed by Trump in the Kansas governor's race, came up short. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher in California and Rod Blum of Iowa, both supported by Trump, also lost.

Thus, it would appear that the Trump embrace carries about as much magic as a blind-worm's sting. If Midas turned everything to gold, Trump seems to turn things blue. He may have noticed this himself, which may explain his petulance last week and his familiar dismissiveness toward "losers," or those who reject his affections. He mocked men, as well, including Republican Reps. Erik Paulsen and Peter Roskam, who lost races in Minnesota and Illinois, respectively.

Ultimately, though, this election was about women and Trump, a verdict that likely only feeds his narcissism. But this analysis would be incomplete without also mentioning the media's role as Trump's creators and enablers, with the Democratic Party as beneficiaries. Every time Trump does what he does, which is to provoke, the media sets its 24-hour news cycle on auto-pilot, and Democrats count their blessings. Trump is the Democrats' biggest fundraiser.

He essentially financed the blue-and-pink wave to the detriment of his own party, especially women. Contrary to town criers coast-to-coast, the future doesn't belong to women at all. It belongs to Democratic women -- and Trump owns that, too.

Kathleen Parker's email address is kathleenparker@washpost.com.

(c) 2018, Washington Post Writers Group

Comments

HAte much Kathleen accosta?! Your article is so slanted and biased it provided several belly laughs! The fact is dumb women like the idea of liberals “ taking care of them”! its The same mentality that had kept African Americans on the plantation! The senate picked up seats which is very uncommon in midterms, while the house list seats (common)! I love this President for standing up for America and it’s people! MAGA

Hard to believe so many supposedly informed women voted for Trump in 2016. Had to be a highly personalized "anti-Hillary" vote ... because ... a recent poll has confirmed that 16% of Republican voters have currently stipulated that they will not vote for Trump in 2020. A majority chunk of that 16% may well be women.

Kathleen Parker and just what are you basing your uneducated opinion on? Better go check what party has more women in positions of power. FACTS never matter to democRATS do they? Look at the "so-called" women of the left. MAD MAX which belongs in jail. Pelosi, Kamala Harris a fraud who slept her way to the top. Barbara Boxer. Feinstein who belongs in jail, the LIAR AND CHEAT in Broward county. I cant wait until shes in JAIL. Good examples of women, huh.

Kathleen Parker is a very traditionalist Republican, Timmy. As Charlie Crist was. As David Jolly was. As Rick Wilson was. As many others on the national scene used to be. Unfortunately, traditional Republicanism has been replaced by puerile Gingrichian and Trumpian tribalism.

Very true as they won't put up with the lies, etc anymore...………...But it isn't just women they have a problem with, it's decent people of all types including many republicans are tired of the lies, hate, insults, base racism, bigotry and laws passed that are against the people...……Trump is up to 6600 lies in just 21 months says volumes.....…...The repub party has become exactly what Clinton said, a party of deplorables that are fiscally and morally bankrupt...…………….We kicked them this time and we'll finish the job in 2020 kicking them out as decent people everywhere just say no to the repub party.

Your comment: "we'll finish the job in 2020". Right on! Nationally, the Democrats will almost certainly take over the U.S. Senate in 2020 ... and Florida Democrats will need to switch only three or four seats to take over the Florida Senate. That'll 'break the fever'!

Go look at the Avis car rental at the Ft Lauderdale airport was rented to. A Gillum worker.

Jerry if you werent so stupid I might actually think you were serious. The woman writing this piece has zero facts supporting her OPINION. Oh and incase you didnt notice you still didnt kick anyone in the teeth. The fraud out of Broward and Palm beach are coming to light. Nice try.

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