The Cycle | December 06, 2012
>> it's not easy. it's not easy. i couldn't do it if i just didn't, you know, passionately believe it was the right thing to do. you know, i have so many opportunities from this country. i just don't want to see us fall backwards.
>> they were the tears seen around the 2008 campaign trail. then senator hillary clinton , the democratic favorite heading into the 2008 primaries with a rare display of emotions a few days after a stunning loss to then candidate oba caucuses. for many the tears helped turn it around and win the new hampshire primary the next day. the next guest says this is a prime example of how difficult it is for women to win political office because they must be both qualified and likeable, a standard voters don't require of male candidates. that's one new findings from lake research and barbara lee foundation. solinda lake is is president of lake research. they surveyed 2012 voters to find a clear, winning road map for women running for office. something i wished i had when i was running for my congressional seat in virginia. thanks so much for being with us.
>> thank you for having me.
>> what are the more surprising findings from the research?
>> the origin isn't very surprising, and i bet you faced it a lot in campaigns. voters say i'll vote for a man. i'll vote for a woman if she's qualified. how do women communicate that they're qualified? we looked in detail at how do you introduce yourself? voters believe they can decide within 30 to 45 seconds whether a woman is qualified ornd ornt. the other stunning finding that we had as you mentioned, the double-bind. people are willing to vote for a qualified man they don't like, but they won't vote for a woman they don't like.
>> as you know, women are less likely than men to seek political office . they're less likely to see themselves as candidates so to speak. i think this research plays into a lot of the sort of innate fears women have to be perfect from day one, polished and prepared out of the gates and that they're punished more than a man would be for the mistakes that they would make potentially on the trail. so what would you say to a woman who is thinking about wrrunning for office and is scared by this research.
>> the good up thing is they're true and now we have ideas about how to deal with this. it is true. there's no running start for women . you have to be prepared from day one. you have to communicate qualifications, confidence, knowledge. you cannot ramp up your campaign. the second thing that's true is if you make a mistake, we have very interesting strategies about how to deal with that mistake. a lot of women -- you saw it in the last campaigns. they try to explain their ways out of mistakes. one of the nicest, best things to do is change the topic and get endorsements and validators who say forget that. she's got the best economic plan. forget, she got this passed senate. you can step on a mistake better than you can explain it.
>> i've always believed there is this double-bind that women if they're not tough enough, then they don't get elected. if they're too tough, they violate the gender norms and don't get elected. as i was researching i found this study by deborah brooks of dartmouth assessing the double bind . she finds no evidence of a harmful double bind to female politicians . tough behavior appears to help women because of the expectancy violation theory that individuals who outperform below expectations get disproportionately rewarded for exceeding the examinations. and she talks about hillary and pelosi and condoleezza who are known as tough who are telling people, hey, it's okay to be tough. the lack of expectation that women will be tough, they are rewarded for being tough. what do you make of this theory by professor brooks?
>> i think it's a very powerful one, and what we found in the work for barbara lee family foundation is that there's a distinction between strength and toughness. there are many ways in which women can be strong and show -- and voters are very comfortable with that. actually, many of the things that make you seem strong and qualified also make you seem more likeable. these are two separate categories. they're highly correlated.
>> as a consultant, i've advised dozens and dozens of candidates both male and female , and the one thing is while we talk about what women face, a male candidate running against a woman faces certainly challenges as well. i'm wondering, what do you think certain strengths that female candidates have they can use to their advantage against their male opponents?
>> it's a really good question. so first of all women think that -- voter think women are more honest and more in touch with their lives. that they might have some of the same shared experiences, vulnerabilities that comes to crime, shopping at the 7-eleven to get milk for the morning breakfast and understanding what the price of milk is. they think of them as more elm pathetic. women strengths help in legislative office than in executive office , which requires that toughness qualification strength, solo leadership. voters also think that any three women in america can agree on more than what congress can do right now. they think women are better able to bring people together, which is a powerful trait right now.
>> i can remember 20 years ago it doesn't seem that long ago there were just two women in the u.s. senate , one democrat and one republican. i think the number is now 20 after these elections.
>> the interesting thing is there's a real partisan split there. there's like 16/4 democrat and republican. you look at that in the house and the lack of women chairing committees. i wonder if you can indict the republican party over that lack of progress, but i also wonder does that create an opportunity, a particular opportunity for female republicans in the next few years as the party kind of tries to rebrand itself? do you think they'll go out of their way to promote women for the senate or in new positions in the house committee chairs the next time they give out assignments?
>> they should. actually, they lost women voters. one of the ways to get women voters and have them pay attention is to nominate more women candidates. the problem for republicans is it's hard to get out of their primaries. they're very viable in the general elections , but the tea party and the born-again christian conservatives have traditionally not voted very much for women candidates and only 45% of the average republican primary is made up of female voters. by contrast on the democratic side, it's 56%.
>> all right. thank you so much.
>> thank you for having me.
>>> straight ahead, speaking of politi politics, domain names for 2016 are getting snapped up. what the most popular picks say about the 2016 prospects. you might notice a little extra taylor swift in the show today. congrats from my favorite of the grammy nominees this year, and to all of the great acts who were picked last night. this family