Expect Fewer Women in Congress Next Year

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Despite the hullabaloo surrounding Sarah Palin’s “Mama Grizzlies,” the number of women actually holding office in the next Congress is likely to decline for the first time since 1978.

Why? USA Today explains that’s it’s mostly because of two factors: 1) women in Congress are disproportionately Democratic, and it’s a tough year for Democrats; 2) the economy is still faltering, and women are generally seen as weaker on economic issues. “They don’t want to take risks in a bad economy, and they perceive women as being riskier,” says Democratic pollster Celinda Lake. As a result, USA Today concludes, “Independent analysts predict that the number of women in Congress—currently 56 Democrats and 17 Republicans in the House, and 13 Democrats and four Republicans in the Senate—will decline for the first time in three decades.” One poll tracker for the Cook Political Report estimates a drop of five to 10 women in the House and that the number of women in the Senate will either drop slightly or stay the same. 

It’s easy to overlook this reality given the amount of attention that female Republican candidates have attracted. But while more Republican women are running for office than ever—leading the National Republican Congressional Committee to label 2010 “the Year of the Republican Woman”—fewer are making it past their primaries: “A record 128 Republican women filed to run for the House, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, although fewer went on to win GOP primaries than in 2004.”

So though Palin may be helping to inspire more conservative women to run than ever, that doesn’t necessarily translate to more women in office. In the end, Palin didn’t make it there, either.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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