The Republican Party needs more women in elected office, and it knows it. Elements of the GOP are working the issue from different angles, from candidate recruitment to messaging. When thinking about this, don’t forget about one seemingly unlikely Republican giving establishment women a boost: Sarah Palin.
— Yes, Palin is associated with a lot more than just bringing more Republican women into the electoral fold. And the quick-glance version of Palin’s political activity is that she supports tea party-aligned “mama grizzly” candidates across the map.
— But Palin endorses plenty of men, too, and some establishment candidates as well. And interestingly, she lends a fair bit of support to women candidates with establishment connections. These labels aren’t one-size-fits-all, of course, but think about Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst (a favorite of Gov. Terry Branstad (R), supposedly, and Mitt Romney) or FL-19 candidate (and Florida state Senate majority leader) Lizbeth Benacquisto (R), who’s hosting Palin for a fundraiser this week and faces other candidates with tea party credentials.
— The Washington Post kept a handy tracker of Palin’s 64 endorsements in 2010, divided by win/loss, gender, and whether the candidates were more closely affiliated with the tea party or the GOP establishment. She endorsed more men than women, and she endorsed more tea party than establishment candidates, according to the Post‘s designation. But Palin was more likely to endorse an establishment woman than an establishment man in 2010. (10 of 27 women endorsees were “establishment,” compared to 11 of 37 men.) The establishment candidates were also more likely to win, and the pattern continues to make sense anecdotally.
Palin is a polarizing political force. But she seems to dial it down when aiming to boost other Republican women into elected office.
— Scott Bland
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