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Thursday, Nov 08 2012 11:00 PM

GOP must mend its connections with US women

By The Bakersfield Californian

If there was indeed a war on women in this past election, female troops responded in full force on Election Day, casting decisive votes in many races nationwide.

It was female voters, in large part, who propelled President Obama to victory Nov. 6, choosing him over Mitt Romney by a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent. In one of the most closely watched U.S. Senate races in the nation, Massachusetts women overwhelmingly voted for Elizabeth Warren, who prevailed in her Senate bid over incumbent Scott Brown with 59 percent of the female vote. It's clear: Women can and do sway elections.

Women were also incredibly popular candidates on Tuesday. New Hampshire now has an all-female congressional delegation and a female governor. The Senate boasts more female members now -- 20 in all -- than it ever has. And with the election of the first woman to South Carolina's state Senate, there is no longer a legislative chamber in the United States that lacks female representation. This is great news at a time when many began to wonder if female influence was slipping in American politics, despite all the gains made in recent decades. As The Washington Post reported, the current House of Representatives has the fewest female members in 30 years and ranked 78th in the world (tied with Turkmenistan) in terms of female representation. Those numbers have moved back up after Tuesday's election as well.

The biggest losers? Republican men with extreme views on women's health issues, like abortion and access to family planning services. Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who claimed that conceiving a child by way of rape is God's will in action, and Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin, who displayed a frightening ignorance of female biology, were both electoral losers.

As Republicans look at ways to reach more voters in coming campaigns, they clearly need to work on repairing connections with women.

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