By Cynthia Richie Terrell on May 27, 2022
The task of the NRA, then—to target their resources to the battleground states and districts like squares on a checkerboard, and try to alarm just enough swing voters there -- is rendered much easier by the geographic-based political map of our winner-take-all system. And it is not too hard to figure out where to target: a 2020 Rand Corporation study found that the 20 states with the highest rates of gun ownership elected almost two-thirds of the Senate’s Republican lawmakers and comprised about two-thirds of the states that President Donald Trump carried in the 2020 election. The 20 states with the lowest rates of gun ownership have more than two and a half times as many residents (about 192 million) as the 20 states with the highest gun-ownership rates (about 69 million).
These kinds of political calculations are intricately connected to the dynamics of winner-take-all’s geographic-based and polarizing two-party structure. In this “swing voter serenade,” small segments of the most uninformed and uninterested part of the electorate, or conversely of the most fanatical parts of the electorate, are bestowed with vastly exaggerated power and able to impact which party wins a majority. They are able to hold hostage any attempt at sane policy, as the middle erodes and legislative bridge-builders disappear.
The impact of swing voters in close winner-take-all district races has not only been frustrating and alienating to the public, but the weight of events illustrates that it has been dangerous to the nation’s health. There was no greater evidence of this than the moving sight of watching family members, friends and loved ones placing flowers on the graves of the innocent victims in Buffalo, Sandy Hook, Orlando, Las Vegas…and now Uvalde. The list is seemingly endless. Welcome to the toxic world of Winner Take All.
Among the successful female candidates were the six Teal independent candidates, who blended the conservative economics of the blue conservative Coalition with the climate policies of green candidates. The Teal candidates focused on inner-urban, wealthy seats, typically held by moderate Liberals. They were funded by Climate 200, which supported independent candidates who made climate action, political integrity, and gender equality top issues in their campaigns. The Teal candidates headlined a successful election for independent and minor party candidates. The major two parties won a record low of first preference votes, while independents and minor parties won a record high of first preferences. According to incomplete results as of May 25, independents won 10 seats, Greens won four seats, Katter's Australian Party won one seat, and the Centre Alliance won one seat.
Who are the ‘teal’ independents?
Independent candidates who ran on a strong climate platform in formerly safe Liberal party seats have been labelled the “teal” candidates, because they represent a voting base with conservative fiscal politics – blue is the traditional colour of the centre-right Liberal party – combined with green views on climate.
Teal has become the preferred colour for many of the independent campaigns, starting with Zali Steggall, who defeated the former prime minister Tony Abbott in the seat of Warringah, on Sydney’s northern beaches, at the 2019 election.
Most of the teal independents, although notably not Steggall, received some campaign funding at this year’s election from a group called Climate 200. It was established by the Melbourne philanthropist Simon Holmes à Court in 2019 and provided funding to independent candidates who made climate action, political integrity and gender equality the main planks of their campaign – and who could match Climate 200’s contribution with their own fundraising.
Despite changing his tune and voicing support for gender quotas within the Liberal Party last year, Morrison made no moves to improve representation; female candidates were overlooked to run in safe seats by both sides; and a number of Liberal women, including Fiona Martin in Reid, lost their seats.
Instead he had Liberal woman after Liberal woman turn against him — from Julie Bishop declaring men in Parliament weren’t doing enough to advocate for women, to Bridget Archer crossing the floor over religious discrimination, to Julia Banks and Gladys Berejiklian abandoning the party. The list goes on.
Morrison — after intense criticism in 2020 that he had forgotten women in the budget — instead dedicated much of this year’s funding to women, pledging cash to struggling domestic violence shelters. But he failed to address the root drivers of gendered violence or inequality, again focusing on policies that benefit men over women in his campaign launch.
The closest Australia got to an admission that Morrison’s actions weren’t being received well was a promise to be less of a “bulldozer” and to change his leadership style.
This, however, was short-lived. He later said that — even after refusing to meet protesters on the day of the women’s March 4 Justice rally (telling women they should be grateful they weren’t shot) — if he had his time again he wouldn’t change a thing.
We knew it was coming. Women and strong female independents led the revolution against the Coalition. Morrison time and again underestimated the wrath of angry women — and it cost him the election.
The results are a reason to smile for those who make up the largest voting cohort in Australia.
- The Canberra Times: The Election Showed Australians Want Climate Action - the Conservatives Should Listen
- Washington Post: Australia Ousts Conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison
- On Elections: It Actually Happened - Independent Surge In Australia as Government Changes
- 9 News: Independence Day as Teals Pick Off Key Seats in Liberal Heartlands
- Alabama, Ivey (R)
- Iowa, Reynolds (R)
- New York , Hochul (D) - who should win primary pretty easily
- Oregon (Kate Brown, D) - all top three candidates are women, with D favored
- South Dakota, Noem (R)
- Kansas, Kelly (D)
- Maine, Mills (D)
- Michigan, Whitmer (D)
- New Mexico, Grisham (D) - leans, but not safe
- Arkansas, Huckabee Sanders (R)
- Massachusetts, Healy (D)
- Arizona, Hobbs (D)
- Rhode Island - SoS Gorbea (D)
- Hawaii, Vicky Cayetano, the former first lady running for Democratic nomination
- Maryland, Republican Schulz
- Georgia - Abrams (D)
- Colorado - Republican woman could well win the nomination, but a longshot against Polis
- Ohio - Democratic nominee against Republican incumbent
- Vermont - Democratic nominee against Republican incumbent
The U.S. men’s and women’s national soccer teams struck a labor deal that closes the contentious pay gap between the squads, an unprecedented step that will equalize both salaries and bonuses, providing a substantial boost to the decorated women’s team.
The deal was part of new collective bargaining agreements with the U.S. Soccer Federation that were announced Wednesday. It was the culmination of a long battle between the women’s team and the sport’s national governing body, which included a high-profile lawsuit that was settled this year.
The USSF said the agreement makes the United States the first country to achieve equal pay for its men’s and women’s teams.
“To finally get to the point where on every economic term it’s equal pay, I am just really proud,” USSF President Cindy Parlow Cone said.
Last fall, New York elected a majority-women city council for the first time ever. This also happened to be the first time the city used ranked-choice voting and public financing. This is not a coincidence.
RepresentWomen’s research team is currently exploring the ins and outs of that election to uncover all the critical ingredients for such a historic outcome, and we’re looking forward to releasing a full report in June. As an appetizer, let's discuss the campaign finance aspects.
According to the Campaign Finance Board, half of candidates who were supported by independent spenders in the June 2021 primary were women, yet women received only 16 percent of the total dollars given by those donors.
Research also shows that individual donors and political action committees donate more frequently and give more money to male candidates than women, and, with these smaller donor networks, women struggle in crowded political fields.
A deeper dive into the spending data tells us that the mayoral race got much more donor attention than the other races: the total amount of funding in the mayoral race (excluding funds spent on attack ads) was more than 400 percent of the total funds in all the other races combined. Male candidates received 92.5 percent of the mayoral funds.
My daughter Becca Richie & pup Maise read my sister-in-law Marina Richie's marvelous new book - Halcyon Journey: In Search of the Belted Kingfisher