Is a Bad Economy Good for Women Politicians?

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This doesn't quite make sense on its face, but some have argued that bear stock markets, a bad economy, and a general downturn in social mood generally mean more women taking office, and that women will enter Congress in 2010 riding this wave.

The Socionomics Institute, an organization dedicated to "the science of history and prediction" through social mood trends, predicted a rise of women, in politics and elsewhere, as an emerging trend tied to troubles in the stock market. From the December 2009 edition of The Socionomist:

Robert Prechter's 1985 Popular Culture in the Stock Market report observed that more women assume leadership roles in bear markets. In employment, women already are faring better than men. Last month The Wall Street Journal reported, "The shift is so dramatic that women now constitute 49.9 percent of the work force and will soon outnumber men. So some have come to call this downturn the 'he-cession.'" Socionomist Mark Galasiewski's April 2007 report "Women in Politics" revealed that the first woman elected to every major U.S. political office made her breakthrough during a major bear market. Since 2000, politicians such as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, former Senator and now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and 2008 Republican Vice-Presidential nominee Sarah Palin have become highly influential.

In June of this year, The Socionomist revisited the topic, again citing Prechter:

In The Wave Principle of Human Social Behavior, Robert Prechter, Jr. predicts that declining mood will result in a polarized electorate, rising popularity for third parties and the ejection of incumbents.

The institute poses this boon to women as part of a broader trend of upheaval tied to negative moods and a bear market. Lack of faith in government, anti-incumbent sentiments, isolationism in foreign policy, and a rise of women are all part and parcel of the same bear-market phenomenon, the group argues.

Like I said, this doesn't make a whole lot of sense on its face, causally...unless we're going to delve into a Camille Paglia-inspired discussion of gender binaries...with women as the mysterious, chthonian side of human existence...and conclude that, somehow, during the id-driven terror of a bad economy, society is driven by impulses of the uncertain...and runs madly into the dark and shifting female night. But we're not going to do that. This is The Atlantic, not the Yale lit department. Carefree postmodernism and recreational drug use don't fly so easily around here. You know what I'm saying? Right.

And yet, 2010 is going to be a good year for women in politics after all.

A handful of high-profile races could see women supplant male incumbents or retirees. Sharron Angle and Linda McMahon stand decent chances of expanding the number of women in the Senate. Nikki Haley is favored to win South Carolina's governorship. Meg Whitman could very well beat out Jerry Brown to become governor of California.

The Center for Women in Politics at Rutgers counted a record 36 women having filed for Senate candidacy, a record 262 having filed for House, and a record-tying eight women running for governor in 10 states.

Meanwhile, Sarah Palin has made news endorsing "Mama Grizzlies" across the country.

Perhaps this has something to do with the bear market theory, or perhaps we've reached a point in society where more and more women will be running for office until women hold high offices proportionally to how many women there are in the U.S....which is to say, more than men.

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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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