When all else fails, they play the woman card.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) became one of the first Democrats to jump into the 2020 presidential race earlier this year. She started with a large war chest left over from her successful Senate runs in 2012 and 2018, and hoped to capitalize on the historic 2018 election that saw a record number of women elected to the U.S. House.
She first formed an exploratory committee in January, and visited several key states around the country. But by the time she formally announced her candidacy in March, the field already had 13 candidates.
Now, the Democrats have over 20 candidates with more expected to enter.
Through it all, she has experienced disappointing fundraising and polling numbers. Seriously. If you look at the history of 2020 presidential polling, she’s not even at a 1% average over a period of several months.
With her campaign failing to gain traction in the media coverage wars, and her lackluster fundraising and polling numbers for the last five months, what has Gillibrand decided to do? Blame “gender bias,” as CNN’s Dan Merica reported in a puff piece published on Sunday from the campaign trail in New Hampshire:
“My [2006 Congressional] opponent never took me seriously,” she said at a coffee shop in Derry. “Which is why I know I am going to beat Trump, because he is not going to take me seriously.”
Gillibrand, in an interview after the event, let out a hearty “yeah” when asked if she felt she was currently being underestimated in the race for the Democratic nomination.
“I think it’s just gender bias. I think people are generally biased against women. I think also biased against young women,” she said. “There’s just bias and it’s real and it exists, but you have to overcome it.”
The frustration has clearly set in for Gillibrand, because just a few weeks ago she gave a more measured response on the “why” question:
“Why do you think white male candidates are doing better than any of the women candidates?” [MSNBC‘s Andrea] Mitchell asked Gillibrand, one of several female senators running for president.
“Well, I don’t know, but this is a marathon and not a sprint,” Gillibrand replied. “And I know that I have a vision for this country and the experience to actually get it done and a plan to get it done.”
Gillibrand and any other female candidate running for president who believes their gender has held them back from higher polling numbers among their base voters at this point have very short memories. Hillary Clinton, of course, won the Democratic nomination in 2016 and came very close to winning the nomination in 2008.
Clearly, the glass ceiling on a woman winning a major party’s presidential nomination no longer exists.
And as I noted earlier, women candidates (most of them Democrats) won Congressional races all over the country last November, even in some areas that had a more reliably Republican rating than Democrat. Not only that, but a few male candidates have numbers at or near Gillibrand’s. What would she blame their campaign failures on since the “man card” is off the table?
To the extent there is any gender bias in 2019 when it comes to choosing a candidate, it is mostly negligible, especially at the presidential level. It’s just inexcusable – not to mention embarrassing – for any female presidential candidate at this point in America’s history to default to the woman card when their campaigns aren’t headed in the right direction.
Why not engage in some campaign introspection and fine-tune areas that need some work, instead of taking the “it’s not me, it’s them” approach?
If Gillibrand thinks her “blame the voter” game is going to win over converts, she’s in for a rude awakening.
— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —DONATE
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