Women Are Flexing Their Political Muscle

By: Steven and Cokie Roberts

Women are flexing their political muscle

This really is the Year of the Woman.

We know, you’ve heard this all before. But consider these numbers: More women are running for Congress than in any previous year — 16 for the Senate and 163 for the House, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers. And this year, women voters almost certainly will determine the outcome of the election.

The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll in swing states makes this abundantly clear. In Ohio, Mitt Romney holds a slim lead among men, but President Obama enjoys a 17-point margin among women and an eight-point advantage overall. In Florida, men strongly favor Romney, but women are even more enthusiastic about Obama, putting the president ahead by four points.

Another sign that this is truly the Year of the Woman: On a busy day in New York, where he was addressing the United Nations General Assembly, Obama (and his wife, Michelle) made time to tape “The View,” the popular morning show hosted by five women and watched mainly by stay-at-home moms. He arrived with a basket of birthday gifts for co-host Barbara Walters and proclaimed his role was to provide “eye candy” for the audience.

Romney was caught on tape at a private fundraiser saying he’d never do the show because four of the hosts were “sharp-tongued and not conservative,” but he’s now agreed to appear next month. Clearly, he was afraid of a rising wimp factor. Co-host Sherri Shepherd got it right when she cracked, “If you can’t handle four sharp-tongued women, how are you going to handle the country?”

Women as candidates and as voters are tied together by an important theme — what women want out of politics. Sure, there are plenty of female ideologues on both sides, but on balance, women tend to be more practical, realistic and conciliatory.

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“Women are pretty frustrated with what they’re seeing in terms of the way Congress operates,” Karen Middleton of Emerge America, a group that trains Democratic women to run for office, told The New York Times. “We tend to be problem solvers.” And there are plenty of problems to solve, starting with a dismally dysfunctional legislative process.

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