Ocasio-Cortez explains why she won

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old Democrat who ousted incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley, discusses her big election-night win.

Posted: Jun 27, 2018 6:53 PM
Updated: Jun 27, 2018 6:55 PM

Call it the Rihanna approach to running for office. (Or for those of a different generation, it's the I-am-woman-hear-me-roar approach to politics.)

For decades, women who have run for office have run cautious races. They have carefully crafted their biographies and resumes (and often their clothing choices) to appear tough, but not too tough, confident, but not too confident, ambitious, but not too ambitious, family oriented, but not too family oriented.

There is even a campaign guide put out by the Barbara Lee Foundation that lays out the rules of the road for what it takes to be a successful women candidate, given the inherent gender bias of the electorate.

Sample lines from the guide lays out a thicket of issues that women have to be mindful of when running for office:

  • Voters are in tune to whether a woman candidate sounds authoritative or bossy, serious or boring, high-pitched and unsure, or clear and steady.
  • If a candidate doesn't have children, voters worry that she may not be able to truly understand the concerns of families.
  • Men don't need to be liked to be elected. Voters are less likely to vote for a woman candidate they do not like. Women face the double bind of needing to show competence and likeability.

And how to overcome these dilemmas? Well, the guide suggests for instance, starting a campaign with a listening tour (perhaps in a Scooby Doo Van, a la Hillary Clinton), providing more evidence of expertise than men (white papers, anyone?) and utilizing the full life experience that comes with being a woman.

It's that last bit of advice that women of the 2018 cycle seem to be taking most seriously. For generations, women have shied away from "running as women."

An episode of HBO's "Veep" starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the title character captures it best. At one point, Selina Meyer's campaign aide suggested that she preface her answer to an abortion question with the phrase "As a woman ..." Yet, echoing the approach of a slew of past women candidates, she expressed horror at this idea.

"No, no, no, I can't identify as a woman! People can't know that," she said. "Men hate that. And women who hate women hate that, which, I believe, is most women."

The irony here is that even when women don't "play the gender card" they are seen as gendered, because unlike men, women are always seen as gendered. Who played the gender card more than Donald Trump in 2016? His hands, for example, are normal size, he will have you know.

But back to 2018 and Rihanna.

Much has been made about this possibly being another "Year of the Woman." The phrase hearkens back to 1992, when in the wake of the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings, women increased their representation in Congress. This year, that doesn't appear likely.

As the headline from the must-read Gender Watch 2018 newsletter says: "Ocasio-Cortez Scores Major Win in New York, But Few Other Gains Likely for Women Across Four Primary States (CO, MD, NY, OK)."

So, yes, women are running and losing, and often when they win, they are in some of the most uphill battles of the cycle. Still, there are some wins that can't be measured in the usual bean-counting metrics.

In the Maryland race, Democrat Krish Vignarajah featured herself in a campaign ad breastfeeding her child. A viral ad from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's winning primary campaign featured her putting on mascara in her bathroom and heels on the subway platform. Amy McGrath, who also knocked off an establishment choice, ran an ad in Kentucky about how her dreams of being a fighter pilot, ran against gender norms established by Congress. (She parroted "Veep" when asked about running being a woman candidate in this cycle -- "With regard to women, I'm not running as a woman -- Vote for me!"). Ayanna Pressley, running for Congress, ran an ad where she details years of sexual abuse and almost cries when she talks about her mother.

"In the past, women candidates too often either felt or were told to hide parts of themselves in order to fit the mold of political candidacy -- a mold created by men," said Kelly Dittmar of the Center for American Women and Politics. "This year, you are seeing women present themselves in ways that are not only more true to themselves, but challenge voters to think differently about both candidacy and gender."

By tapping into their inner Rihanna -- who is known for ... well ... not giving a ... (rat's whisker?) ... women are finding success on the trail by being their whole unabashed selves. And that will likely be the most lasting legacy of this year of the woman.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 704632

Reported Deaths: 13211
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion961411718
Lake51322943
Allen39040670
Hamilton34368405
St. Joseph33865539
Elkhart27197431
Vanderburgh22050394
Tippecanoe21725212
Johnson17475374
Porter17240298
Hendricks16754310
Clark12663190
Madison12321337
Vigo12172244
Monroe11417166
LaPorte10841204
Delaware10325184
Howard9629211
Kosciusko9098113
Hancock7954139
Bartholomew7867155
Warrick7680155
Floyd7543176
Wayne6887198
Grant6773171
Boone6524100
Morgan6379138
Dubois6074117
Marshall5770108
Dearborn568576
Cass5678102
Henry5569100
Noble539383
Jackson492869
Shelby478295
Lawrence4336118
Gibson427789
Harrison427570
Clinton417753
Montgomery417286
DeKalb407984
Huntington377480
Whitley376339
Miami371765
Knox365789
Steuben363357
Putnam352360
Jasper347546
Wabash347377
Adams337852
Ripley333468
Jefferson312180
White307854
Daviess289399
Wells285581
Decatur278592
Fayette277162
Greene270485
Posey268433
Scott260853
Clay253044
LaGrange252170
Randolph234680
Washington230631
Spencer227531
Jennings224747
Fountain208245
Sullivan207542
Starke202652
Owen191956
Fulton190939
Jay185829
Carroll185620
Perry179736
Orange176753
Rush170624
Vermillion165943
Franklin165635
Tipton160943
Parke144316
Blackford133331
Pike130234
Pulaski113245
Newton103034
Brown99740
Crawford97514
Benton96413
Martin82515
Warren79315
Switzerland7698
Union69710
Ohio55711
Unassigned0408

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1050112

Reported Deaths: 18991
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1219281356
Cuyahoga1067232069
Hamilton780741168
Montgomery49976996
Summit45252909
Lucas39984765
Butler37678570
Stark31385895
Lorain24111473
Warren23864293
Mahoning20869583
Lake19963362
Clermont19423229
Delaware18002130
Licking16109207
Fairfield15676197
Trumbull15553460
Medina14839259
Greene14643236
Clark13602293
Wood12733185
Portage12353196
Allen11312229
Richland11025198
Miami10525214
Muskingum8702127
Wayne8556209
Columbiana8535226
Pickaway8429121
Tuscarawas8370240
Marion8365135
Erie7554154
Hancock6694123
Ross6693146
Geauga6532146
Ashtabula6470165
Scioto6286101
Belmont5610158
Union557447
Lawrence5465102
Jefferson5303147
Huron5298114
Darke5268121
Sandusky5171120
Seneca5108120
Washington5073107
Athens500656
Auglaize475184
Mercer471184
Shelby455890
Knox4380108
Madison421559
Putnam420799
Ashland412688
Fulton409167
Defiance400896
Crawford3866101
Brown386055
Logan372876
Preble369898
Clinton360560
Ottawa356578
Highland346359
Williams324974
Champaign319257
Jackson307951
Guernsey306149
Perry289649
Fayette277348
Morrow274639
Hardin264164
Henry263566
Coshocton258857
Holmes253099
Van Wert238862
Gallia233346
Pike232931
Adams227852
Wyandot226953
Hocking208959
Carroll189147
Paulding168638
Meigs141538
Noble132837
Monroe128841
Morgan106623
Harrison105236
Vinton81414
Unassigned02
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