Year Of The (Disappearing) Republican Woman

Tuesday, Kelly Ayotte barely squeaked out a primary victory, keeping hope alive that Republicans will end up with at least as many female US Senators next year as they have now. With Lisa Murkowski out, and the rest of the women nominees iffy at best (Fiorina, Angle, McMahon, and now O'Donnell), an Ayotte loss would have been grim.

Meanwhile, a little-noticed development in Delaware, where Michele Rollins managed to lose the primary to replace Mike Castle in Congress -- giving menfolk a clean sweep in all 20 of the open Republican House seats.

All election cycle, I've been carefully following and writing about what I call the extinction of the Republican elected woman, and which the Republican National Committee and others have been calling the Year of the Republican Woman.
I was right, they're wrong.
I'll write much more later about this, but for now I just want to quickly update that analysis of mine from last October, now that we've reached the end of the primaries. (Hawaii is the only one left, and there are no women running for those offices there.)

In all, there are just 11 women Republicans who won primaries in potentially winnable seats; plus 15 incumbents running for re-election, and 20 nominees in absolutely safe Democratic districts. Here's how things look, using the latest Cook Report ratings for districts where a Republican challenger might win (ie, an open Republican seat, or a Democratic seat):

--Of 24 districts rated lean/likely/safe Republican, 1 woman nominee

--Of 47 districts rated Tossup, 4 women nominees

--Of 30 districts rated lean Democrat, 3 women nominees

--Of 22 districts rated likely Democrat, 3 women nominees.

Bear in mind that the first 20 GOP winners replace the retirees; so, if every Tossup-or-better district goes GOP, that would be a net gain of 51 seats -- producing 71 freshmen Republicans, of whom 5 (7%) would be women. (Interesting parallel, which I'll say more about in a coming post: the 1995 'Gingrich Revolution' class of 73 freshmen Republicans included 7 women.)

Since there are 158 returning GOP incumbents (putting aside potential defeats for the moment), 15 of whom are women, that would create a new GOP caucus of 229 members -- 209 men, 20 women (less than 9%).

As you can see from the figures above, regardless of how well or poorly the elections go for Republicans, their new members of Congress will almost certainly be more than 90% male, and the overall makeup will actually drop from its current, pathetically low rate of roughly 9.5% women.

Almost a year ago, I wrote a series of blog posts analyzing the grim prospects for women to make any significant gains among the ranks of elected Republicans in 2010. My conclusions were:

Women currently make up 14% of GOP governors (3 of 22). The party is likely to increase its total share of governors, but probably the same number of women....

The figure is now 12% (3 of 24). Next year, there will likely be several more Republican governors, between 3 and 5 of whom will be women. Jan Brewer (AZ), Mary Fallon (OK), and Nikki Haley (SC) are likely to win; and Meg Whitman (CA), and Susanna Martinez (NM) are tossups.

....Women currently make up 10% of GOP Senators (4 of 40). The party is likely to end this cycle with as many, or perhaps more Senators, but probably the same number of women....

The figure is now just under 10% (4 of 41). Next year, there are likely to be several more Republicans, but probably the same number of women, plus or minus one.

....Women currently make up just under 10% of GOP US Representatives (17 of 177). The party is likely to end this cycle with quite a few more members of Congress, but probably the same number of women, or perhaps one or two more.

The figure is now a hair lower (17 of 178), and you can see above the total GOP caucus is likely to expand significantly, but probably little or no gain in the number of women.

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