Martin Bashir | November 08, 2012
>> let's get right to our panel now. msnbc political analyst karen finney is a former communications director for the dnc and krystal ball is my colleague and co-host of "the cycle." they're calling this the year of the woman, but it didn't come a minute too soon, did it? because according to one study, the united states is tied with turkmenistan of 78th in the world in terms of its percentage of women legislators. so despite what's happened this week, there's a heck of a lot of work to do, isn't there?
>> absolutely. 20 women now in the senate . that's record-breaking. previous record was 17 women , but the fact that 20 women is the record is in and of itself pretty astonishing. the one thing i would note to you though is in general, and this is statistically-borne out, when democrats do well across the country, more women get into office. when we had the 2010 republican wave, it was the first time that the number of women in the house of representatives actually went backwards. so now that we have, you know, a democratic really landslide across the country, particularly in the senate , that's why we're seeing historic increases in the number of women senators.
>> right. karen , we've just learned that washington has passed its initiative on same-sex marriage. it becomes the ninth state to approve same-sex marriage and the third this week, as you know. so that's an update. on tuesday night we saw the election of five new women senators, as krystal was saying. when the senate convenes for its next session, there will be 20 female members, the most the body has had.
>> is that a point for celebration?
>> yes. and actually i'm hoping next time, martin, you will play a little aretha franklin r-e-s-p-e-c-t.
>> we will.
>> because with 20 women in the senate , we actually have a chance at some sanity. i am not kidding you. i think women have really shown, abt patty murray , head of the dscc deserves a tremendous amount of credit as a woman leader getting so many women elected to the senate . so i think it's a very positive thing because i think women in congress, and i'm so sorry we didn't get krystal in there last time, maybe another time we'll get her in there --
>> i have no doubt we will.
>> but bringing some sanity and also just women -- women have a different style of leadership. we are more collaborative, and i think despite the right wing flip out we're seeing, one of the clear messages from tuesday night was that people want collaboration. that is not a dirty word . so i think women will help be a part of that, and i guess the second thing i would say very quickly about the news out of washington state is that's another sign of the way this country and our cultural attitudes are changing and a way that the republicans are completely out of step with this country.
>> yeah. krystal , we all remember the original year of the woman back in 1992 .
>> that promised a great deal and you've mentioned already the declines, particularly in 2010 . what can be done now to ensure that what has happened this week is built upon for the future?
>> well, i think we actually may have passed a really critical milestone because when people are looking at these individual senate races, part of what they're saying is, you know, it wasn't just the state they were running in. it wasn't just the year that they were running in. these were -- it was a phenomenal batch of extremely talented candidates.
>> it was the fact of the quality of the candidates.
>> the candidates themselves were very charismatic, very talented, and they convinced voters. so in and of itself, i think that's a bit of a psychological barrier, getting past the idea that this sort of subliminal idea that men are better candidates, that they're who people are looking to for leadership, and i wanted to pick up on a point that karen was making about now having 20 women in the senate , having a critical mass . studies have shown on corporate boards, in other bodies, when you get to about a third of women represented, there's really sort of a tipping point in the way that that body operates. so if we could continue inching up to having about a third women in the senate , i think that would really be an important landmark moment for us, too.
>> maybe the fiscal cliff would be avoided. karen , four states, hawaii, massachusetts, north dakota , and wisconsin elected women senators for the very first time. the state of new hampshire has elected women to all the major offices. that's never happened before either. in another first, white males will no longer be the majority in the house democratic caucus . i mean, this was really a phenomenal change, wasn't it?
>> it was. i guess do i get to say i told you so?
>> you do.
>> you better listen to women . the other thing i think we need to talk about is the role of women in this electorate. women actually increased their share as a percentage of the electorate overall overwhelmingly going for barack obama . you can thank us later by the way. not only -- seriously, and i think that particularly given what we have seen over the last year in particular the war on women and the tone of the conversation, i think it's an incredible thing that not only did women come out in force and i hope women continue to come out in force, but also that so many great women candidates were elected. the electorate just was not buying the kind of disrespect that the republicans were selling about women .
>> absolutely. final question, krystal , if you had to pick one winner from this week who's emblematic of the change, would it be elizabeth warren or maybe claire mccaskill ?
>> i might pick heidi heitkamp in north dakota . that was such a squeaker, not called until yesterday, and she's -- it's a red state . we really didn't think we had a chance to pick that one up, but, again, because she has such a strong and charismatic candidate who really understands her state and the people in her state, so i would say that would be my winner for the week snp.
>> karen , who is yours?
>> she would be mine as well.
>> don't agree with each other. this is far too stupid. if you were men you wouldn't agree with anything.
>> we're consensus builders here.
>> we'd be off doing something else. but i think the other thing about heidi heitkamp that i think is so important and particularly given what you were talking about the fools and republicans behind me who are thinking they're going to take back parts of obama care, she stood up for obama care in a very tough race and, remember, that was one of the races where they were trying to use the medicare against her. they tried to use the mom strategy, tried to use obama care against her, and she did a phenomenal job really standing up for the importance of women 's health care and, again, in a very red state . i think that's a tremendous sign of progress.
>> no doubt. karen finney, krystal ball, thank you so much.