WHY did Michele Bachmann do so poorly among women voters? According to polls in December, she had less than 8 percent of the female vote in Iowa.
The answer to this question perhaps can be found by looking at Sarah Palin’s popularity. Though Palin withdrew, it’s safe to assume she would have done much better among women voters. Palin is younger than Bachmann. That’s one big difference. Women could more easily project their own hopes onto Palin’s relative youthfulness. Second, Palin is a have-it-all, you-can-do-anything evangelical, a shot of adrenalin to women wanting to keep up with the demanding feminist, self-inventing lifestyle. Michele, in contrast, is a reality principle. Bachmann has led much the same busy life, but Palin’s bouyant exuberance is much more suggestive of the idea that all will turn out fine.
Finally, there is a moral seriousness about Bachmann that Palin does not possess. Her concern, especially about homosexual liberation, is an admission that we are in a state of decline. By her seriousness alone, Bachmann reminds women of the hard work that women have traditionally done, work that calls on the deepest part of oneself and that brings in no pay. She is part of a long line of militant defenders of home. Women aren’t willing to do this work anymore. They can’t do it and make lots of money too.