Predict away about '06, but female governors are a sure bet


It's a coin toss whether the bloom is off the rose for Democrats in November. Are Democrats going to make major the electoral gains (and perhaps regain control of one chamber of Congress) they seemed destined to make several months back? Or are Republicans regaining the ground lost by President Bush when his approval ratings hovered close to that of President Nixon just before the latter resigned?

Who knows. But there is one sure thing this election cycle: Both political parties can expect to see the women governors in their ranks hold onto power. An unprecedented five of the eight sitting female governors are up for re-election, but USA Today reports: "Nonpartisan analysts favor four of the five to win, even though all four are in states that were carried by the other party in the 2004 presidential race." This year, pundits and analysts give women twice as high a "favored for re-election" rating as they give their male counterparts.

The women favored to retain their seats are Republicans Linda Lingle of Hawaii and Jodi Rell of Connecticut, and Democrats Janet Napolitano of Arizona and Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas.

What accounts for such staying power? Gone are the heady days of the "Year of the Woman" in American politics. Academicians call 1992, "the most significant year for women in politics ... when as many as 60 million women voted, and their impact was felt. After the ballots were counted, 24 new women had been elected to the House of Representatives along with five new female U.S. senators, the largest increase of women political leaders in American history."

Women pols are now seen as less polarizing than men, better at working with members of the opposite party, and more honest. Obviously, those analysts haven't been spending much time in Congressional Women's Caucus get-togethers on the rare and oft-avoided occasion when the topic of abortion comes up. Female politicians are great at finding common ground on women's health, family matters, and other so-called puff issues. But sources tell me things knot up considerably over abortion.