It was a pattern repeated nationwide. In Iowa, Republican candidate for Senate Joni Ernst—the first woman Iowa has ever sent to Washington as an elected representative—tied her opponent, Democrat Bruce Braley, among female voters. She won men by 18 points. Or take, for instance, the unexpectedly non-competitive race in Georgia, where a Republican man defeated a Democratic woman; the Democratic candidate won female voters by eight percentage points but lost men by a staggering 23 points.
Let’s get this out of the way first: it wasn’t about abortion. In Colorado, where a “personhood” amendment was on the ballot that would have dramatically restricted abortion and certain forms of contraception, it failed with 63 percent of men and 66 percent of women voting “no”—hardly a “gender gap” to be found.
No, instead, it turns out that when your message is very clearly aimed at pandering to or terrifying one slice of voters, the rest of the electorate says “no thanks.” “Please, oppressors, bring your male privilege to the polls for us” isn’t exactly a message that wins you hearts and minds, no matter how many Lena Dunham appeals you make. And with men seeing wages stagnate and economic opportunity drying up, hammering home a message about the “war on women” is tone-deaf at best.