Unsurprisingly, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York ended her presidential campaign on Wednesday. Her short term on the national campaign stage was characterized by miserable election numbers and mediocre debates. Although Gillibrand was one of the few female candidates in a crowded male field, she lacked the star power and any real electoral base.
Their failure might come as a surprise: Democrats have long pushed for more women to be elected. However, Gillibrand's campaign reminds us that the physical characteristics of a woman do not automatically make her more or less fit for office and that any other conclusion merely arouses the sexism that masquerades as progress.
Prior to their departure, Gillibrand's RealClearPolitics survey average was only 0.1
In short, the Gillibrand 2020 campaign was an empty pants suit. On paper, a left-wing senator should have done better, right? But Washington Post writer Monica Hesse noted Gillibrand's almost unique focus on women's issues:
It put together a platform based on the revolutionary idea that women's issues, which affect half of Americans, are not marginal to our culture. They are American topics.
The candidate's strategy clearly failed.
It's hard to say why other female presidential candidates in 2020, like Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, fared better than Gillibrand. Maybe it's because voters see them as more comprehensive campaign platforms that are not so gender specific. Maybe it's because they enjoy better name recognition. Nevertheless, it is clear that aspiring to a higher office does not mean that a woman is rewarded with the support of female voters. And it is not surprising that it has nothing to do with misogyny.
There will always be a very small percentage of voters who do not believe that a woman should be president. But the majority of Americans, both Republicans and Democrats, reward their support for those who seem highly capable and have a lot of experience. Above all, a candidate's platform must be based on what voters really believe is the best way for the country – gender does not matter on the whole. If a politician seems to focus almost exclusively on issues that affect women, the message in such a diverse country sounds a bit too awkward. Gillibrand misunderstood her messages. And as surveys showed, the electorate was not interested.
Kimberly Ross ( @SouthernKeeks ) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner Beltway Confidential Blog and a columnist at Arc Digital.