And what about the much-hyped women’s vote? The Tao of identity politics teaches us that women should feel a sense of solidarity with their sisters, but that’s not the way they’ve been acting. Kirsten Gillibrand, the campaign season’s star avatar of women’s issues, was best known for her fight for paid leave and against sexual abuse in the military and on college campuses. Those efforts didn’t help her in a national campaign. Though almost 60 percent of self-identified Democrats are women, Gillibrand could never break 2 percent support, and she failed to meet the donor threshold for September’s debate. She ran as a “white woman of privilege,” telling voters, “I can talk to those white women in the suburbs and explain to them what white privilege actually is.” Evidently, women of color were unimpressed, while white ladies were not amused; her candidacy deflated like an old balloon.
Elizabeth Warren, the highest polling of the Democratic women still standing, is finding a bit more support from women than men—about 2.9 points more. Certainly Warren is saying all the right Democratic things about familiar issues, announcing ambitious plans to undercut restrictive abortion laws, narrow the pay gap for women of color, establish universal child care, and reduce maternal mortality.
This could bring more women on board the Warren train, but she shouldn’t count on it. There’s little evidence that women as a group gravitate toward female candidates, though they look like they will in hypothetical matchups.