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Losing the CenterThe Decline of American Liberalism, 1968–1992$
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Jeffrey Bloodworth

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780813142296

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813142296.001.0001

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“Zero, None, Zip, Nada”

“Zero, None, Zip, Nada”

Lindy Boggs and Gender Gap Politics

(p.195) 10 “Zero, None, Zip, Nada”
Losing the Center

Jeffrey Bloodworth

University Press of Kentucky

Reagan's 1980 landslide came with one silver lining for Democrats: the gender gap. As the first presidential election where men and women significantly diverged, Democrats believed women offered them a route back to the majority. Nominating Geraldine Ferraro to serve as Walter Mondale's running mate was the culmination of the “gender gap” strategy. Unfortunately for Mondale, Democrats misunderstood gender gap politics. Tapping a pro-Equal Rights Amendment prochoice Catholic backfired. Igniting a firestorm of protest, Ferraro's stance on the ERA and abortion further antagonized the Democrats’ issues with women and white ethnics. Lindy Boggs, however, understood the gender gap. The widow of House Majority Leader, Hale Boggs, by the late 1970s Lindy Boggs emerged as the most powerful female member of Congress. Emphasizing bread-and-butter economic issues, such as Title IX, Boggs showed Democrats the way to effectively exploit their nascent advantage with women.

Keywords:   Geraldine Ferraro, the Gender Gap, Equal Rights Amendment, Lindy Boggs, Title IX, abortion, Walter Mondale

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