Big Day For Women?

There's a lot of commentary going around interpreting yesterday's primaries as a sign that it's a banner year for women candidates -- especially Republican women. Hmmph.

Yes, there were impressive wins yesterday in a few high-profile contests. (Plus Elizabeth Mitchell in Maine's Democratic primary, who nobody is mentioning.) But let's not get carried away. Meg Whitman ran away with the California GOP gubernatorial primary; Carly Fiorina won that state's GOP Senate primary; Sharron Angle won Nevada's GOP Senate primary; and Nikki Haley finished first in South Carolina's gubernatorial primary, which now goes to a runoff. Add that to Susana Martinez's gubernatorial primary win in New Mexico last week, and you have five Republican primary winners -- and as any good journalist knows, five of anything is more than enough for a trend story.

But, it's not really a whole lot. Fiorina and Angle are the only two female GOP Senate nominees from the 16 chosen so far -- and neither one looks like a great favorite to actually win. They will only be joined later by, at most, three more: McMahon in Connecticut, incumbent Murkowski in Alaska, and Ayotte in New Hampshire. Five (at most) nominees out of 35 races.

Similarly, the GOP has a shot at having at most seven gubernatorial nominees, out of close to 40 governors races.

Meanwhile, the slaughter continued for women running for the US House. First off, Cecile Bledsoe -- the closest we've come so far to a female Republican primary winner in an open Republican district -- lost her run-off in Arkansas. Also, a couple more women NRCC "Young Guns" lost, including highly touted Elizabeth Emken, who was trying to be the first female GOP nominee challenging in a "Lean Dem" district -- she finished fourth.

By my count, we have now had primaries for 243 congressional districts (of 435 total) -- resulting in just 20 women Republican nominees, including seven returning incumbents; plus two more heading to run-offs. Of the 13 challengers nominated, 10 are in "Safe Dem" districts, and the other three are in "Likely Dem" districts. Only Martha Roby of Alabama, if she wins her primary runoff, would be in a merely "Lean Dem" contest.

Not to take anything away from yesterday's winners -- and no question, having women topping the ticket in the most populous state in the country means something -- but I'm far from taking elected Republican women off of my endangered-species list.

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