MSNBC panel confused: Why are so many tea partiers women?

Via the Daily Caller, which has fun snarking on the panel’s mystification here and in kicking around psychological theories about how a movement of “outsiders” might have special appeal to women, how women might be trending fiscally conservative because they tend to control the family checkbook, etc. Here’s something similar from yesterday’s story in the New York Post about the rise of Republican women:

Analysts and politicians cited the Palin effect, the economy and anti-incumbent rage as factors fueling the rise of the Republican woman. But a few also think that the destabilizing impact of the Tea Party — the outsiders barreling their way through backroom politics — has had a ripple effect.

“It goes to that general sense of frustration,” says Kristin Soltis, director of policy research at The Winston Group, a DC-based polling and strategy company. “If women have disproportionately not been part of the status quo, it makes sense that women would enter these races.” Soltis also cites the lessening power of “the Republican old boys’ club, which has been part of a previous era,” and the institutionalized outreach within the party to cultivate female contenders.

I can’t tell from the clip whether they’re amazed that there are any women in the tea party — remember, assumptions about how women should behave politically are nothing new to morning TV — or whether they believe that the number of women involved in the movement is unusually high. If the latter, I’m not so sure they’re right. Quinnipiac famously reported in March that 55 percent of tea partiers are women, but later polls by Gallup and the NYT both had tea-party samples that were 55 and 59 percent male, respectively. I don’t know how to explain that discrepancy except that there are many ways to define “tea partier,” e.g. someone who sympathizes with the movement’s goals, someone who’s been to a rally, someone who identifies the brand favorably, and so forth, so maybe there are gender imbalances depending upon how that definition shifts.

It’s true of course that many prominent women pols identify with the tea party, starting with Palin and on through Angle and O’Donnell and Linda McMahon, but the other side of asking why they’re so prominent is asking why they poll so horribly with women voters. Phyllis Chesler tried some pop psychology of her own to explain that, but I think it has less to do with envy or anything similarly petty than with the possibility that women generally are less fiscally conservative than men. That’s why they tilt Democratic in election after election, and that’s why I can’t quite buy the “family checkbook” theory to explain any special appeal the tea party might hold for them. Isn’t the answer here simply that — gasp — there are a lot of women out there (albeit perhaps not a majority) who are intellectually conservative and are simply responding to a very conservative movement?