Electing Women

A new study says that women are most likely to be elected to office in New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. “At the other end are Gadsden, Ala., and Paducah and Bowling Green, Ky.”

Well, I grew up 25 miles from Paducah, and I wondered about that. Paducah had a woman mayor — no, Dolly McNutt was not a character in a Donald Duck comic book. That’s something that neither Los Angeles nor New York has had. In 1983, Kentucky elected Martha Layne Collins governor, only the third woman in American history to be elected governor without succeeding her husband. Neither New York nor California has yet had a woman governor. Collins carried McCracken County, home of Paducah, by a large margin over baseball star and future senator Jim Bunning. She also heavily carried Warren County, where Bowling Green is the county seat.

It sounds reasonable that, as the Washington Post reports,

Districts that elect women, according to [study coauthor Dennis] Simon, tend to be “upscale — more degrees, more professionals, urban.” Those less likely, he added, are “more rural, lower-income and more traditional.”

But I’m not sure. Aside from the above comparisons of Kentucky, New York, and California, I note that the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate who did not succeed her husband in Congress was Nancy Landon Kassebaum of Kansas. Kansas was also the first state where a woman defeated an incumbent governor, and it was the second state to have two female senators. Simon may be largely right, but it’s not a slam-dunk.