Ocasio-Cortez explains why she won

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old Democrat who ousted incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley, discusses her big election-night win.

Posted: Jun 27, 2018 5:55 PM
Updated: Jun 27, 2018 5:55 PM

Call it the Rihanna approach to running for office. (Or for those of a different generation, it's the I-am-woman-hear-me-roar approach to politics.)

For decades, women who have run for office have run cautious races. They have carefully crafted their biographies and resumes (and often their clothing choices) to appear tough, but not too tough, confident, but not too confident, ambitious, but not too ambitious, family oriented, but not too family oriented.

There is even a campaign guide put out by the Barbara Lee Foundation that lays out the rules of the road for what it takes to be a successful women candidate, given the inherent gender bias of the electorate.

Sample lines from the guide lays out a thicket of issues that women have to be mindful of when running for office:

  • Voters are in tune to whether a woman candidate sounds authoritative or bossy, serious or boring, high-pitched and unsure, or clear and steady.
  • If a candidate doesn't have children, voters worry that she may not be able to truly understand the concerns of families.
  • Men don't need to be liked to be elected. Voters are less likely to vote for a woman candidate they do not like. Women face the double bind of needing to show competence and likeability.

And how to overcome these dilemmas? Well, the guide suggests for instance, starting a campaign with a listening tour (perhaps in a Scooby Doo Van, a la Hillary Clinton), providing more evidence of expertise than men (white papers, anyone?) and utilizing the full life experience that comes with being a woman.

It's that last bit of advice that women of the 2018 cycle seem to be taking most seriously. For generations, women have shied away from "running as women."

An episode of HBO's "Veep" starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the title character captures it best. At one point, Selina Meyer's campaign aide suggested that she preface her answer to an abortion question with the phrase "As a woman ..." Yet, echoing the approach of a slew of past women candidates, she expressed horror at this idea.

"No, no, no, I can't identify as a woman! People can't know that," she said. "Men hate that. And women who hate women hate that, which, I believe, is most women."

The irony here is that even when women don't "play the gender card" they are seen as gendered, because unlike men, women are always seen as gendered. Who played the gender card more than Donald Trump in 2016? His hands, for example, are normal size, he will have you know.

But back to 2018 and Rihanna.

Much has been made about this possibly being another "Year of the Woman." The phrase hearkens back to 1992, when in the wake of the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings, women increased their representation in Congress. This year, that doesn't appear likely.

As the headline from the must-read Gender Watch 2018 newsletter says: "Ocasio-Cortez Scores Major Win in New York, But Few Other Gains Likely for Women Across Four Primary States (CO, MD, NY, OK)."

So, yes, women are running and losing, and often when they win, they are in some of the most uphill battles of the cycle. Still, there are some wins that can't be measured in the usual bean-counting metrics.

In the Maryland race, Democrat Krish Vignarajah featured herself in a campaign ad breastfeeding her child. A viral ad from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's winning primary campaign featured her putting on mascara in her bathroom and heels on the subway platform. Amy McGrath, who also knocked off an establishment choice, ran an ad in Kentucky about how her dreams of being a fighter pilot, ran against gender norms established by Congress. (She parroted "Veep" when asked about running being a woman candidate in this cycle -- "With regard to women, I'm not running as a woman -- Vote for me!"). Ayanna Pressley, running for Congress, ran an ad where she details years of sexual abuse and almost cries when she talks about her mother.

"In the past, women candidates too often either felt or were told to hide parts of themselves in order to fit the mold of political candidacy -- a mold created by men," said Kelly Dittmar of the Center for American Women and Politics. "This year, you are seeing women present themselves in ways that are not only more true to themselves, but challenge voters to think differently about both candidacy and gender."

By tapping into their inner Rihanna -- who is known for ... well ... not giving a ... (rat's whisker?) ... women are finding success on the trail by being their whole unabashed selves. And that will likely be the most lasting legacy of this year of the woman.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 37624

Reported Deaths: 1503
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin12150785
Ramsey4805226
Stearns234519
Dakota228690
Anoka2180107
Nobles16626
Olmsted110115
Washington106940
Mower9452
Rice8357
Scott7004
Clay58538
Kandiyohi5701
Wright4565
Blue Earth4532
Todd4002
Carver3641
Lyon3092
Sherburne3075
Freeborn2900
Steele2281
Watonwan2160
Benton2143
St. Louis17715
Martin1635
Nicollet15912
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Goodhue1298
Winona12215
Crow Wing10612
Pine1030
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Otter Tail931
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Carlton850
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Polk812
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Isanti720
Itasca6412
Waseca640
Douglas620
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Murray580
Becker550
Faribault550
Jackson550
Sibley542
Pennington500
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Mille Lacs342
Renville322
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Brown302
Rock300
Yellow Medicine300
Beltrami290
Fillmore280
Houston250
Swift211
Norman200
Wilkin203
Redwood180
Cass152
Wadena150
Aitkin140
Big Stone140
Kanabec141
Koochiching141
Roseau130
Marshall120
Grant100
Lincoln100
Pope100
Mahnomen81
Clearwater70
Hubbard60
Lake60
Traverse50
Lac qui Parle40
Stevens40
Red Lake30
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 30975

Reported Deaths: 720
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk6464179
Woodbury321544
Black Hawk225258
Buena Vista171111
Johnson12648
Dallas126329
Linn126282
Marshall104319
Scott77810
Story7623
Pottawattamie72111
Wapello70630
Dubuque68322
Crawford6772
Muscatine62944
Sioux4630
Tama46229
Wright3801
Louisa36013
Jasper32317
Plymouth3165
Warren2731
Dickinson2642
Washington2369
Webster2132
Hamilton1871
Cerro Gordo1561
Boone1481
Clay1330
Clarke1312
Allamakee1284
Mahaska11517
Shelby1140
Clinton1071
Poweshiek1048
Carroll961
Pocahontas941
Bremer926
Franklin890
Des Moines882
Henry863
Emmet850
Cedar821
Taylor790
Monona760
Cherokee751
Floyd722
Hardin700
Marion700
Guthrie664
Benton651
Sac630
Jefferson590
Osceola590
Jones560
Humboldt541
Butler532
Harrison530
Lee532
Hancock510
Iowa510
Buchanan501
Monroe506
Calhoun492
Delaware491
Fayette480
Madison452
Clayton433
Lyon410
Palo Alto410
Davis391
Winneshiek380
Grundy370
Mitchell370
Mills360
Howard350
Kossuth340
Lucas304
Greene290
Jackson290
Chickasaw280
Winnebago280
Union270
Ida230
Cass220
Appanoose203
Keokuk201
Page200
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Worth190
Audubon161
Unassigned160
Adair150
Ringgold150
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