Republicans picked up seven Senate seats in the midterm election. (Note: This includes Alaska, which was called for Republican candidate Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanSenators fear Syria damage 'irreversible' after Esper, Milley briefing Overnight Defense: Trump hits Iranian central bank with sanctions | Trump meeting with Ukrainian leader at UN | Trump touts relationship with North Korea's Kim as 'best thing' for US Exclusive: Kushner tells GOP it needs to unify behind immigration plan MORE earlier this morning.) According to CNN exit polling data, the male vote was key in every one of them. The female vote was also interesting.


For years, the Democrats' go-to strategy has been to accuse Republicans of conducting a "war on women" and so appeal to its formidable female voting base. The accusation may no longer be a winner. Men are emerging as the new power base that Democrats ignore at great peril. This is especially true if women split their votes between both parties.

What does the polling data reveal about the seven Republican Senate candidates and the strategy of "anti-woman" accusations?

Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoGaetz: Some lawmakers reviewed transcript at White House On The Money: Trump takes aim at China in UN address | Consumer confidence fell as trade tensions rose | Senate proposes billion for Trump border wall Senate proposes billion for Trump border wall MORE (West Virginia). The pro-Democratic and feminist Emily's List issued a memo accusing Moore of turning "her back on West Virginia women time and again." It hit repeatedly on her opposition to ending "gender discrimination in pay." The exit data showed men favoring Capito by 37 points; women by 19.

Mike RoundsMarion (Mike) Michael RoundsAmerica's newest comedy troupe: House GOP 'Mike Pounce' trends on Twitter after Trump slip at GOP retreat Conservatives offer stark warning to Trump, GOP on background checks MORE (South Dakota). The pro-Democratic RH Reality Check decried him as being "stringently anti-choice" and responsible in 2006 for signing into law "one of the most sweeping anti-choice laws" in America. Men favored Rounds by 30 points; women by 12.

Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonHillicon Valley: GOP lawmakers offer election security measure | FTC Dem worries government is 'captured' by Big Tech | Lawmakers condemn Apple over Hong Kong censorship Lawmakers condemn Apple, Activision Blizzard over censorship of Hong Kong protesters Lawmakers set to host fundraisers focused on Nats' World Series trip MORE (Arkansas). Liberals emphasized that Cotton voted against the Violence Against Women Act. They reached back to his college days to critique an article he wrote for The Harvard Crimson which criticized feminist organizations. Men favored Cotton by 24 points; women by 10.

Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstGOP cautions Graham against hauling Biden before Senate Farmers: New Trump ethanol proposal reneged on previous deal Overnight Energy: Farmers say EPA reneged on ethanol deal | EPA scrubs senators' quotes from controversial ethanol announcement | Perry unsure if he'll comply with subpoena | John Kerry criticizes lack of climate talk at debate MORE (Iowa). The progressive PoliticusUSA called her "a lying Koch-funded teabagger, and an anti-woman's rights evangelical." It cited her support for a "personhood amendment" which would have granted constitutional rights to a fetus. Men favored Ernst by 18 points; women were evenly divided.

Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerBennet reintroduces bill to ban lawmakers from becoming lobbyists GOP warns Graham letter to Pelosi on impeachment could 'backfire' The Hill's Morning Report - Dem debate contenders take aim at Warren MORE (Colorado). His opponent, Sen. Mark UdallMark Emery UdallPoll: Trump trails three Democrats by 10 points in Colorado The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Colorado candidates vying to take on Gardner warn Hickenlooper they won't back down MORE (D), ran a one-issue campaign: reproductive rights. Udall's first ad declared, "It comes down to respect. For women, and our lives. So Congressman Cory Gardner's history promoting harsh anti-abortion laws is disturbing," criticizing Gardner for championing "an eight year crusade to outlaw birth control." Men favored Gardner by 17 points; women favored Udall by 8.

Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisTillis says impeachment is 'a waste of resources' GOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe The Hill's Campaign Report: Warren, Sanders overtake Biden in third-quarter fundraising MORE (North Carolina). The feminist organization Women Are Watching excoriated Tillis as anti-abortion, anti-birth control and against tax funding of Planned Parenthood. It concluded that "Women in North Carolina deserve better." Men favored Tillis by 15 points; women favored his opponent by 12.

Dan Sullivan (Alaska). Planned Parenthood launched a campaign of ads against Sullivan, which blasted his opposition to abortion and ObamaCare's contraception mandate. The ads even mentioned his opposition to the tax funding of Planned Parenthood. Men favored Sullivan by 11 points; women favored his opponent by 2.

Due to Louisiana's electoral policies, the Senate race there may not be decided until December. Nevertheless, the Nov. 4 results are significant. Democratic candidate and incumbent Sen. Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuCongress needs to work to combat the poverty, abuse and neglect issues that children face Dems wrestle over how to vote on ‘Green New Deal’ Lobbying world MORE is prominent on the state and federal level. Her family has deep political roots in Louisiana and she chairs the powerful Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Nevertheless, Landrieu could not reach the required 50 percent vote. She received 42.1 percent, while her three Republican rivals cumulatively received 55 percent.

She is unlikely to prevail in the runoff. Indeed, the Associated Press (Nov. 6) reported that the "Senate Democrats' campaign committee ... began canceling plans for television ads in Louisiana's major markets to help Sen. Mary Landrieu's runoff campaign against Republican Bill Cassidy." During the race, Democrats decried Cassidy as anti-abortion.

The Senate elections offer several gender lessons, including:

  • Republicans are fielding formidable female candidates who counter the argument that the GOP is anti-woman;
  • The "woman vote" is being split; and
  • Men have emerged as a new power base that Democrats ignore at great risk.

On election night, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer declared, "this is the end of the 'war on women,' and the Democrats have lost it." He pointed to political "dynasties" that crumbled, which included Mark Udall, Sen. Mark PryorMark Lunsford PryorMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm MORE (D-Ark.), Democratic Senatorial candidate Michelle Nunn (Ga.) and (arguably) Mary Landrieu. Krauthammer suggested they fell because they pushed the war on women strategy too far.

If true, the development has profound implications for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton trolls Trump with mock letter from JFK to Khrushchev Trump-Graham relationship tested by week of public sparring Sunday shows — Mulvaney seeks to tamp down firestorm over quid pro quo comments, Doral decision MORE, who is expected to make a 2016 presidential run. Clinton's main perceived advantage is an ability to mobilize women voters through her signature approach of legislating feminism. If this drives men further toward the GOP, however, it may be her main disadvantage.

This piece has been updated.

McElroy is a research fellow at the Independent Institute.