If the GOP intends to survive, then yes, it does have to get women back on board. Yet even in a moment of crisis, the party’s messaging to women remains incoherent at best. The blue wave was made up in part by angry, frightened women, mobilized by typically “female” concerns — the public humiliation of Christine Blasey Ford, the continuing trail of sexual misconduct allegations against Trump, the likely fall of Roe v. Wade and even the need for common-sense gun control, which women are vastly more likely to support than men. Yet one of the Trump administration’s first moves post-midterms was to unleash a new set of draconian rules attacking contraceptive and abortion access. One of these rules, which would allow insurance companies to bill separately for abortion care, could potentially notify your employer whenever you had an abortion.
So the outreach to women isn’t going to come by way of policy. But so far the party and its surrogates aren’t attempting to woo women back with softer, sweeter media coverage, either. Even as Graham and Cantor wonder whether the Republican Party is pushing women away, Fox pundit Laura Ingraham is taking to the air to condemn the incoming Democratic Congresswomen as misandrist she-beasts: “A dark, pink cloud is gathering,” she warned her viewers on Nov. 13. The menace of which she spoke? None other than “the newly elected crop of women on Capitol Hill,” who are playing the “political gender card” and going “on the war-path against white men.”
To be clear: This is a party that is supposedly scrambling, desperately, to recoup female support and adapt to a moment in which there is a widespread demand for more women in power. Yet its strategy for winning those women back is to make them wear scarlet letters into the office and show them panicked news broadcasts about the apocalyptic, horizon-darkening evil of female politicians.