Claire McCaskill campaigning in Kansas City earlier this month
With a record-breaking 20 women headed to the U.S. Senate next year, and with 80 percent of its endorsed candidates winning in 2012, Emily’s List, a group dedicated to electing Democratic women to office, had a lot to celebrate.
And celebrate it did: As Washington-based political organizations hold their post-election events, the foremost Democratic women’s group took its turn on the “victory lap” circuit Wednesday. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz addressed a handful of supporters and journalists at a briefing in downtown D.C.
Its message: In 2012 women turned out for Democrats – voting 55 percent for President Obama – because an atavistic GOP agenda turned them off, not simply because a few Republican candidates made epic mistakes with comments about rape.
“After the election was over, and we were all exhausted from high-fiving and drinking too much, what was surprising to me was the reaction from the Republican establishment,” McCaskill said, noting that Republicans had acknowledged their demographic shortcomings among Latino voters, with a few prominent GOP voices calling for immigration reform as an answer. “We haven’t heard yet any kind of acknowledgement that women are rejecting their agenda in record numbers.”
McCaskill called herself “the senator who brought you Todd Akin” – an apt title, given that McCaskill aired ostensible attack ads against Akin, unsubtly designed to boost him in the three-way GOP Senate primary, which he won. McCaskill went on to beat him in the general election. But Akin’s primary victory turned out to be a boon for female Democratic candidates everywhere, McCaskill said, because it “crystallized” something about Republicans in “so many races across the country.”