GOP's Glass Ceiling?

We're in the midway summer doldrums of the 2010 primaries, so it's a good time to try to make premature analyses of the trends. Since, as you may have noticed, I've been obsessively following the fates of Republican women in this election cycle, I'll suggest that we may be seeing a new development: a glass floor in the GOP, with women facing extinction at every level of elected office except the two big, high-profile, state-wide offices of US Senate and state Governor.

As I've written before, women now make up just under 10% of all Republicans in the US Senate (4 of 41) and US House (17 of 178). They make up 12% of Republican governors (3 of 24), well under 10% of other major state-wide officeholders (AG, Secretary, Treasurer), and 16% of state legislators.

Those are miserable numbers, and they have not been going up -- in fact, the raw numbers have been dropping over the past several years, and while that's partly due to the overall decline in elected Republicans, the female percentages of newly elected pols are no better than the existing rates and in some cases worse.

The 2010 cycle is going to bring in a large number of newly elected Republicans; between filling vacated GOP seats and winning Democratic ones, they could easily elect at least ten freshman Senators (which would be a net gain of 4 seats), 50 freshman in the House (net gain of 30), 20 new Governors, a couple dozen other state-wide officeholders, and some large number of state legislators. That's either a big opportunity to change the ratios, or to solidify the male-dominated makeup for years to come.

So far, below the Gov/Sen level, the story looks like more of the same.

For the US House, 243 of the 435 districts have held their primaries. Aside from the 7 returning incumbents, just 13 Republican women have emerged as nominees, with a 14th -- Martha Roby in Alabama -- favored to win a runoff. Roby, a slight underdog in the general election, would have by far the best chance of those 14; only two others are likely to even be competitive.

Looked at another way, there are 53 districts without a Republican incumbent (ie, an open seat or a Democratic incumbent) that are pretty unanimously rated by the analysts as 'Toss-Up' or a Republican advantage -- those are the 53 most likely districts to elect a freshman Republican to the House. So far, 23 of those 53 have held their primaries, and all 23 have produced male GOP nominees. Looking ahead, 17 of the remaining 30 have no women candidates, leaving 13 possibilities, and in most of those the women are underdogs.

It's not hard to imagine this cycle producing zero new Republican women in the House (in fact, a well-informed Swing State Project blogger unwittingly did so recently). More likely, there will at least two, to make up for the two leaving, and maybe a handful to make the incoming class a 90/10 male/female split similar to its current status.

Moving down to 'other major statewide offices,' the picture looks bleak as well. Of the 25 states that have held primaries (not all of which have these offices up for election this year), the GOP has nominated 1 woman for AG, 


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