MATTHEWS: ‘Sexism’ is not to blame for failure of female Democratic presidential campaigns

Democratic presidential rivals Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar say goodbye to each other after Warren's speech at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day rally on Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

With Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) both dropping out of the Democratic presidential race last week, that leaves only two major Democratic presidential candidates left.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and President Obama’s former vice president Joe Biden remain. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) is also still in the race, but is sticking around as more of a statement/anti-establishment candidate than a viable contender.

With Warren’s exit in particular, the “woman card” has been played by supporters, feminists and high-profile Democrats to explain why her campaign failed.

“This election cycle in particular has also presented very legitimate questions about the challenges of women running for president of the United States,” former presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) told a group of reporters not long after Warren made her announcement on Thursday.

Harris concluded by saying that “the reality is that there’s still a lot of work to be done to make it very clear that women are exceptionally qualified and capable of being the commander in chief of the United States of America.”

Warren also trotted out the sexism excuse in comments made to reporters Thursday, promising she’d have “a lot more to say on that subject later on.”

Warren and Harris may think it sounds good to suggest the fact that they are women played a starring role in the failures of their respective campaigns, but there are a number of factors which counter this narrative.

The obvious one is the fact that they were running in Democratic primaries and caucuses for the nomination, not in a general election where there are voters of all political persuasions weighing in. Democratic voters picked Hillary Clinton in 2016. They didn’t magically turn the clock back in 2020 and regress.

In Warren’s case, Super Tuesday exit polls from her home state of Massachusetts show she lost female voters to Joe Biden by 10 points. This statistic was key to her finishing in third place in her own backyard.

Forget the male vote. Democrats can’t win elections if they lose women voters. If Warren couldn’t win the backing of a majority of Democratic women in one of the most liberal states in the country, the chances of her winning them elsewhere were slim to none.

Plus, the polling gurus at pointed out last September that Warren couldn’t just expect women voters to gravitate towards her. “In fact, other studies have shown that other parts of women’s identities — race, education, religion — seem to be more central to how they vote,” they noted. In other words, gender solidarity is not the first priority of most women voters when deciding on who to vote for.

In Harris’ case, her star rose for a short time after the first Democratic debate last June, but in over a month’s time afterwards she saw a dramatic drop in support from key Democratic voting blocs – black voters and women voters.

Harris’s support among female Democrats went from 24% in early July to 7% a month later. Support among black supporters for Harris went from 27% in July to just 1% in early August.

Harris’ decline was attributed to a number of things, including how black voters felt about her attacks against Joe Biden on arguments he made decades ago on busing and statements he made last year on working with segregationist senators in the 1970s.

Also, Gabbard took Harris to the woodshed at the second Democratic debate over her questionable criminal justice reform record as California’s attorney general. After that, Harris’ campaign never recovered.

Both Harris and Warren are playing the “woman/sexism” card in an effort to mask the real issues that doomed their campaigns. It’s embarrassing and yet predictable all the same. They should know better, but clearly, they just can’t seem to help themselves.

Stacey Matthews is a veteran blogger who has also written under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah and is a regular contributor to Red State and Legal Insurrection.