WaPo Buries Story with Obvious Palin Point: Tuesday Results Show Emerging Year of the GOP Woman

While most media outlets obsessed over the liberal theme that Republicans keep "suicidally" nominating "ultra-conservatives," Washington Post reporter Anne Kornblut, who authored a book earlier this year called Notes from the Cracked Ceiling, noticed a different trend. Her story was headlined "GOP gains the lead in female politicians' steps forward." Tuesday's victories of Palin-endorsed GOP women Christine O'Donnell and Kelly Ayotte underline an emerging Year of the Republican Woman. Too bad the Post buried it on Page A-6 of the paper, and it hasn't been linked on the Post's homepage today, either. Kornblut began:

Democrats used to own the field of women running for higher office. Not anymore.

Nearly two years after an anticipated gender bounce - with predictions that women in both parties would rush into politics inspired by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sarah Palin -- it turns out that the momentum is on the Republican side. If there is a Palin effect, it is not being matched by any Clinton effect at the other end of the ideological spectrum.
Since this is the liberal Washington Post, Kornblut then turned to a cast of liberals and Democrats to assess whether this can be verified: 

Democratic pollster Celinda Lake said it is "very fair" to argue that the energy for female candidates is trending Republican, a view several other Democratic strategists shared.

"I've been struck by it," said Dee Dee Myers, a former White House press secretary and author of "Why Women Should Rule the World."

"All the momentum is on the tea party side, so why wouldn't it also be with the women on the tea party side?"

Other Democrats dispute the notion of a conservative "year of the woman," saying that the numerical advantage is slight, if it exists at all. They also note that some of the Republican nominees, including Christine O'Donnell of Delaware, are seen as fringe candidates unlikely to win their general elections.

Stephanie Schriock, the head of Emily's List, which is dedicated to electing [ahem, Democrat] pro-choice women, said the "candidates that are making it through these primaries are more and more extreme, radical right-wing folks" who, even though they are female, do not appeal to independent and moderate women.

A Republican expert wasn't quoted until the story's final paragraph, although Kornblut credited Palin:

Palin has unquestionably played an outsize role in upping the Republican numbers, endorsing several women, including Haley and O'Donnell, who might never have gained sufficient attention otherwise. She has brought to the Republican Party what some members had once complained did not exist: a concerted effort to tap female candidates for promotion and lift them out of obscurity.

And then there is this: The woman most capable of counteracting a Palin bounce for Democrats - Secretary of State Clinton- is not available to campaign.

Add to that a general sense of malaise among Democrats, a volatile electorate angry at the status quo and a growing acceptance of female politicians in both parties, and the trend is hardly a surprise, strategists said.

"Who better to say, 'I'm not part of the establishment' than a Republican woman?" said Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway. "If you want to convey you are not of the firmament of Washington, D.C., and ergo of all the problems and out-of-control spending and corruption, you have to say, 'I'm a Republican woman,' because so few of them have ever been involved at that level."

You can see why the rest of the Post would want to bury this story. But the rest of the media ought to acknowledge it. They can't say it's not The Year of the Republican Woman because they'll probably lose: several primary winners (the "Year of the Woman" when liberals ascended with an "Anita Hill effect") lost in November. 

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis