The Difference Between Iowa and New Hampshire

Former Vermont Governor Madeleine Kunin writes in the Washington Post this morning that gender was key to Hillary's comeback in New Hampshire, but not in ...
by | January 11, 2008

Former Vermont Governor Madeleine Kunin writes in the Washington Post this morning that gender was key to Hillary's comeback in New Hampshire, but not in the way you might think:

New Hampshire elected a popular female governor three times, and it has the nation's second-highest percentage of women in its legislature -- 35.8 percent. (My state ranks first, at 37.8 percent.) Iowa hovers near the national average, at 22.7 percent, but it is one of two states (the other is Mississippi) that have never elected a woman to Congress or the governor's seat. Women in high office are not visible to Iowa's electorate.

...

Aside from having elected a woman as governor, New Hampshire has become accustomed to seeing women wield the legislative gavel. Both its House speaker and Senate president are women. Their voices and their faces are on the nightly news. It's not startling to see women in power, because they are there in significant numbers. Their hairstyles, color choices and range of emotions are less newsworthy because they are no longer one of a kind.

When researching my forthcoming book, I concluded that electing women is contagious. The more you see, the more you get. The states with two female U.S. senators -- Washington, California and Maine -- also have large female congressional delegations and a high percentage of women in their state legislatures. Washington has the added bonus of a female governor. These elected women serve as powerful role models for other women, who see them in action and ask themselves, why not?

It's an interesting argument, but one that I doubt Iowans will readily embrace. Kunin, by the way, supports Clinton's presidential bid.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com  | 

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