With exit polls fresh from the recent Alabama U.S. Senate election, many observers are scratching their heads and wondering why 63% of white women voters in Alabama voted for Republican Roy Moore, in spite of the fact that he faced numerous allegations of sexual predation against young girls. While surely not all of these white women voters were evangelical Christians, given that the race was in Alabama, which is 89% Christian (of which nearly half are evangelical), we can safely assume that many were.
Do our leaders reflect the diversity of our people? Insights and analysis on gender and representation in federal positions.
Donald Trump owes his presidency to women. Many political observers had assumed that Trump’s boorish behavior would alienate women at the polls and, while exit polls showed that Trump won just 42% of them to Clinton’s 54%, Trump secured a majority of the votes of white women in the 2016 election. One of the strongest contingents in this bloc comprised outspoken, conservative women leaders who honed their political skills in the Tea Party—a group that I profile in my book Tea Party Women.
One of our key inquiries on the subject of human rights in the Gender Policy Report is how the face of U.S. diplomacy will be transformed by the Trump Administration. Of particular interest are key changes in U.S. institutions and personnel, which signal a shift on international protections for human rights and gender equality around the world. This inquiry leads us to the most prominent female presence in foreign policy, Nikki Haley, confirmed by the Senate on January 24, 2017, as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
Since state legislatures often serve as pipelines to higher office, the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) examined the number of women of color in each state legislature, both as a proportion of women and as a proportion of legislators overall. Nationally, women of color hold 5.9 percent of all state legislative seats; 23.7 percent of women lawmakers are women of color. As more policy authority is devolved to states, representation of women and women of color becomes even more important substantively, as well.
Courts matter—look no further than President Trump’s “travel ban” executive orders, which have been stalled by federal district court judges in three different jurisdictions and by a three-judge federal appellate panel. And as the public considers the importance of the Supreme Court and legislators weigh Trump’s nominee to it, Neil Gorsuch, many journalists, including those with the New York Times and Washington Post, have sought to determine the possible ideological impact of Trump’s appointments to the lower federal courts. Few analyses, though, are focused on how Trump’s decisions will affect demographic diversity within the federal courts. At the end of Obama’s presidency, the U.S. had hit a milestone: only half its federal judges were white men.
Since 1993, every U.S. president, regardless of party, has included at least three women in his initial Cabinet. Clinton appointed four women in his second term (and five total across his presidency). Clinton’s successor, George W. Bush, had three female appointees in his first term and four in his second. Barack Obama appointed four women in his first term and, eventually, another four in his second term. According to political scientists Claire Annesley, Karen Beckwith, and Susan Franceschet, the United States, for decades, has had a “concrete floor” of nominating at least three women to cabinet posts. How has U.S. President Trump fared? At this point, he has fallen through the “concrete floor” with just two women nominated and confirmed for his cabinet. This marks a stunning reversal to a decades long norm.
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